High Country Forage Improvement

Funded by The New Zealand Merino Company Ltd

‘Survive, thrive and make money from’ are the three stages of pasture legume research aimed at high country pastures. Lincoln University staff and post-graduates are working with several high country farmers to determine which species survive and how to make them thrive in the unique soils and climatic conditions of the South Island high country.

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The High Country stations involved are:

  • Lake Heron Station (Philip Todhunter, Ashburton)
  • Sawdon Station (Snow Loxton, Burkes Pass)
  • Glenmore Station (Will & Jim Murray, Tekapo)
  • Simon’s Hill (Glen & Denis Fastier, Tekapo)
  • Bog Roy (Gundy and Lisa Anderson, Lake Benmore)
  • Omarama Station (Richard Subtil)
  • Mount Grand Station (Rick McNeilly, Hawea)

Farmers’ questions set the scientists the challenge to find methods to:

  • Establish lucerne where possible
  • Introduce alternative annual legumes establishment
  • Introduce alternative species for specific environmental niches (cultivatable and non-cultivatable land)
  • Oversow and top dress steep topographic areas
  • Overcome acid soils with high exchangeable aluminium
  • Develop hill country paddocks of different aspects, altitudes and rainfall/temperature regimes, with perennial legumes and grasses
  • Use appropriate species and methods to oversow tussock grasslands to increase quality and quantity of available feed at lambing
  • Define management requirements for grass and legume species sown to survive, produce and persist.

Yields, changes in botanical composition of pastures and liveweight production from grazing stock will be monitored to quantify how successful strategy was.

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Postgraduate Research

  • 2019. Travis Ryan-Salter (PhD). Agronomic potential of Lupinus polyphyllus for dryland merino properties in the Mackenzie Basin.
  • 2019. Daniel Hendrie (PhD). Liming effects on legume production and phosphorus availability in acid South Island Hill and High Country soils.
  • 2018. Amy Whitley (PhD). Investigations of soil extractable aluminium and toxicity in New Zealand soils.
  • 2015. Saman Berenji (PhD). Constraints and opportunities for lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), Caucasian clover (Trifolium ambiguum M. Bieb), and Russell lupin (Lupinus polyphyllus L.) in the high country of New Zealand.

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