Sustainable Planted Pasture Systems

Sustainable Planted Pasture Systems

Pasture production, efficiency of pasture utilized by animals, stocking rate and milk production per cow are key drivers determining profitability of milk production from pasture systems. Research on dairy pasture systems and evaluation of all stages ranging from cultivar yield trials, establishment methods, animal performance and economics is crucial to ensure sustainability of pasture systems. This special session will focus on sustainability of dairy pasture systems with emphasis on profitability and future challenges in the dairy industry in South Africa.

Session Programme

Session Chair: Dr Philip Botha

Keynote Address: Mr Nelius van Greunen

Future challenges for the dairy industry

A brief overview of the market and production trends of the South African and International Dairy Industry will be given. Particular reference will be made to the demographic trends in production, the underlying drivers thereof and the challenges associated with such trends. The different feeding regimes of dairy cows wil be highlighted, with special reference to the pasture-based production system and the research opportunities that exist.

Ms Janke van der Colf

Kikuyu based pasture systems for sustainable milk production

Prof Robin Meeske

Profitability of milk production on pasture systems

Mr Pieter Swanepoel

Sustainability of planted pasture in a no-till system

Panel Discussion lead by Dr Philip Botha

Chair and Speaker Profiles

Session Chair: Dr Philip Botha

Specialist Scientist at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture

Dr Philip Botha is a Specialist Agricultural Scientist: Pasture Science in the Institute for Plant Production for the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. He has 36 years experience in planted pasture research and extension to commercial and subsistence farmers. He specialized in the field of Grassland Science and is responsible for the pasture management and utilization research within the pasture research program at the Outeniqua Research Farm near George. He provides scientific leadership to researchers and is currently the project leader for a multi-disciplinary research program investigating the effects of over-sowing kikuyu with different ryegrass species. He is the research leader of the “pasture for dairy” research group conducting pasture system research at Outeniqua Research Farm. It is the only research group of its kind in the country. He is currently also the only planted pasture researcher in South Africa running a program on multidisciplinary research of this magnitude within the field of pastures for dairy. Under his guidance component research is incorporated into dairy production systems developed through empirical data and strengthened by the successful application and monitoring within a real production unit. His research on over-sowing of kikuyu with ryegrass and clover with no-till practices under irrigation for dairy cattle is unique in the world.

Keynote Address: Mr Nelius van Greunen

Farmer, Former Chairman of the Milk Producers Organisation, Vice Chairman of Milk SA and Managing Director of Van Greunen Boerdery

Nelius van Greunen is the Managing Director of Van Greunen Boerdery, a family owned farming venture located in George, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. He was born and raised on his parents' farm in George, studied for a BComm at the University of Stellenbosch and started farming with his family in 1983. He was appointed as Managing Director with the establishment of Van Greunen Boerdery in 1988, a legal entity in which the farming business was developed. He was responsible for the development of the farming business, as a market orientated venture, consisting of agri production units with a sustainable competitive edge. Van Greunen Boerdery was nominated as the farmer of the year on two separate occasions over the past 20 years by the Agriculture Writers Association. The enterprise includes blueberry farms, a potato production unit and four dairy farms. He pioneered the focus on biological farming methods within Van Greunen Boerdery, based on a proper understanding of the natural resources and a drive to achieve optimal production sustainably. The dairy farms are all pasture-based and the pasture system comprises the backbone of the Van Greunen farming system. He has served as a producer member in all structures of the dairy industry over the past 20 years, as well as in the positions of director and chair. He was instrumental in leading initiatives transforming industry structures to become functional in a deregulated economic environment. He has a holistic insight in the dairy industry, the farming sector and the business environment.

Ms Janke van der Colf

Scientist at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture

Janke van der Colf acted as a student researcher for the Western Cape Agricultural Research Trust from 2008 to 2010 whilst completing her MSc (Agric) degree in Pasture Science under the supervision of Dr Philip Botha on the Outeniqua Research Farm. She obtained her MSc degree Cum Laude from the University of Pretoria with her thesis entitled “The production potential of kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) over-sown with Ryegrass (Lolium spp.)”. She is currently employed as a Candidate Researcher by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, where she specialises in pasture systems. Her research is aimed at developing pasture systems that will maximise profitability, as well as ensure economic and environmental sustainability of such systems. Her research takes on a holistic approach consisting of the evaluation of a broad spectrum of species and cultivars (based on specific fodder flow requirements), mixtures, best management practices and the animal production potential of different systems. The main research project currently under Janke’s supervision is entitled “Sustainable kikuyu-legume pastures in the Southern Cape” and has been accepted by University of the Free State as a PhD project. Janke is also responsible for all preliminary studies related to this project. As a Candidate Researcher, Janke manages a research team consisting of two technicians, one technical assistant and six farm aids, while also mentoring a postgraduate student.

Prof Robin Meeske

Specialist Scientist at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture

Robin Meeske gained his BSc Agric (Animal Science) in 1982, BSc Agric Hons (Animal Nutrition) in 1985 and MSc Agric (Animal Nutrition) in 1990, all from the University of Pretoria. He later completed his PhD (Agric) thesis in 2000 with Stellenbosch University, entitled: The effect of silage inoculants on fermentation properties and on animal production. In 2007, Robin was appointed as extraordinary Professor at the Department of Animal Science, Stellenbosch University. Robin is employed as a Specialist Agricultural Researcher at Outeniqua Research Farm in George in the Western Cape Province. The Jersey research herd of 400 cows in milk at Outeniqua is an excellent research facility., and his duties are research and extension in the field of dairy cattle nutrition and crop preservation. He has published 39 scientific papers and contributed to 104 conference presentations.

Mr Pieter Swanepoel

Scientist at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture

 

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