LUDF (Lincoln University Dairy Farm) adopted a low foot print farm program approach in 2015. This farm program has been refined over subsequent seasons delivering high per cow production with a grass based farm program with the aim of minimal supplement use. Nitrogen used has been moderate at 135 – 170 kg nitrogen applied per hectare. Our policy does allow up to 190 kg nitrogen/ha as per the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser cap.

Plantain represents an opportunity for LUDF to further reduce the risk of nitrogen leaching while maintaining current farm performance and profitability. The research on plantain highlights that a significant reduction in nitrogen leaching is achievable at cow intakes of 30% plantain or higher. Overseer modelling suggests at that level of plantain in the diet, nitrogen leaching will drop from 35 to 26 kg/ha of nitrogen.

In 2021 LUDF embarked on a planting program of plantain to achieve 30% intakes of plantain by planting pure swards of plantain, the target was to plant 10% of the farm every year, to obtain 30%.

In 2024 LUDF has reviewed our pure sward strategy and now plans to move away from pure crop option. Our aim is to continue to find the best method for incorporating plantain into existing pastures. By using the latest information about establishment we will now look at how plantain performs at LUDF, and will compare:
▪ establishment method (direct drill vs broadcast)
▪ sowing date (autumn vs spring sowing)
▪ heavy and light soils
▪ and replenishment periods

We will review the plantain composition over the establishment period and in autumn and this information will be used to in our decision making process as to the next step for maintaining plantain in the sward. Success will be defined as a proportion of 10% or more of plantain in the sward.

Our current overseer file has an N loss of 26 kg/ha. If we are successful in achieving 10% or more plantain the sward, overseer does give a further reduction to 24 kg/ha.

Ecotain info sheet

Plantain plan 2021