Developed by PGG Wrightson Seeds under the Forage Innovations joint venture with Plant and Food Research, Pallaton Raphno® (a hybrid between kale and radish) has been bred to perform in increasingly challenging environments.
Pallaton Raphno® is a hybrid between Brassica oleracea (kale) and Raphanus sativus (radish). The goal of the breeding programme was to combine six stacked traits, which would perform for New Zealand farmers within increasingly challenging environments. The six traits include: high forage yields from multiple grazings, plant persistence under multiple grazings, drought tolerance, clubroot tolerance, aphid tolerance and grazing flexibility.
The first new forage brassica species New Zealand farming has seen since the 1980s. Developed by PGG Wrightson Seeds under the Forage Innovations joint venture with Plant and Food Research.
Drought is currently one of the biggest challenges facing farmers in a number of regions. Pallaton Raphno® uses water efficiently (it has a 38% increase in water use efficiency (WUE) relative to Goliath® forage rape), making it an excellent crop choice for those affected.
Our trials showed Raphno® will give you 41%* more meat per hectare compared with chicory. Total 390 kg/ha (Raphno®) vs. Total 276 kg/ha (chicory).
*Trial completed by PhD student Holly Phillips at Massey University. Meat per hectare data was captured over the period 17/01/2020 to 01/05/2020. Data represents carcass weight gained, assuming lambs starting the trial had an estimated carcass weight using a 39% dressing out percentage, then actual carcass weights were applied coming off the trial for each individual treatment.
With excellent regrowth potential Pallaton Raphno® will persist for four to five grazings over a 12 month period and can be grazed as early as 50 days after sowing to maximise crop utilisation and regrowth potential.
Pallaton Raphno® also offers 14% increased yield advantage (relative to Goliath forage rape in a multigraze system (total cumulative yield from repeat harvest).
Where: Patitapu Farming Co, Wairarapa
Farm type: Sheep and beef
Who: Doug and Bruce McKenzie
Patitapu Farming Co Ltd is a 2,300 hectare operation across two blocks in the Wairarapa. The main farm is on medium hill country that is semi summer safe and winter wet; the other block is extremely summer dry but good wintering country.
The operation has a big focus on finishing and having greater control over homebred cattle and lamb flocks so they are less exposed to the volatility of store market. “Raphno® enables us to finish summer lambs which otherwise would be sold store. It’s quick to first graze and its multi graze ability allows us to continue finishing right through autumn and winter. We target good forward lambs to put the polish on them. They go on about 33-35 kg liveweight and are on Pallaton for 30-40 days. This is long enough to give us the benefit of transition, so we get solid growth rates and gives us the best yield advantage. We work on 200 g/day for feed budgeting purposes and this works well.”
To get the most out of the Raphno® crop they planted it on time and got it well established. They also invested in optional extras such as weed sprays, fertiliser (both starter and follow up N) to maximise plant vigour. Subdivision and water was key too!
“We split our 30 hectare Raphno® paddock into 10 x 3 hectare cells. Having scale gave us a lot more flexibility and the smaller cells helped us manage that crucial first grazing. It allowed us to graze effectively, without having to compromise stock. Getting this right set us up well for the subsequent grazings and made it easy to manage.”
The McKenzies like Raphno®’s quick establishment and the fact it’s a very flexible crop. “it has no maturity so can be grazed anytime and multiple times. This gives both summer and winter production with flexibility for different stock classes.” In fact, this multi-season versatility is a huge benefit to the system, positively impacting it by being able to match lamb supply throughout the season.
It’s relatively resilient to summer dry and very resilient to heavy grazing, which the Patitapu team finds it needs this in the first round. Raphno® also integrates well with other brassicas; it’s used alongside rape and kale in this system.
“Knowing how tough it is and how well it regrows, gives us the confidence to stock it high. We have other brassicas as release fields if we need them.”
Raphno® has helped create flexibility within the Patitapu farm system. The ability to carry a high stocking rate, and a fast turnover of lambs meant they could empty the reservoir off the hill country. This not only benefitted lamb production but also created opportunities for other classes of stock.
Where: Arkley Farm, Gore
Farm type: Sheep & Beef
Who: Peter Gardyne
Peter and Esther Gardyne and their four sons run Arkley Farm located in Knapdale just north of Gore. Running 1,200 hectares they manage around 8,000 breeding ewes, 2,000 hoggets, and 200-300 cattle, as well as finishing lambs on top of that.
The farm itself experiences a mixture of low to medium rainfall with lighter to heavier soils and being based down in Southland the temperatures can get quite cold in winter so September through to the middle of May is when they experience key times for crop growth.
Peter and Esther have been using Raphno® since its first release in 2018; that summer in particular was quite dry and they immediately saw how Raphno®’s drought tolerant trait helped it thrive as they sowed into the stonier half of the farm.
But it has been the crop’s flexibility that has ultimately won them over. Within their farm system they have been able to incorporate Raphno® as both a summer and winter brassica and are able to graze both sheep and cattle on it. By using a brassica-based system the Gardyne’s are able to grow a lot of dry matter in 12 months at a relatively low cost. From their experience, August is when Raphno® “really kicks into gear and gives us some good kilograms of dry matter” Peter explains.
The Gardyne’s get the most out of Raphno® by taking advantage of its regrowth ability, setting up a rotation so they are able to achieve the highest number of grazings over the season. Trying to balance the plant numbers is key. Raphno® can handle a hard graze, so grazing it down hard enough to get the regrowth quality to come back can sometimes be tricky. “It’s a specialist crop” Peter describes, “you have to graze it appropriately and if treated as such it does give some very good responses”.
For Peter, it’s all about maximising the value of high-quality feed. When grazing lambs in the summer, they use their Raphno® crop to really target the smaller lambs, “especially those ones that are weaning under 30-32 kgs”, Peter says. “By putting the smaller ones on you maximise their growth rates.” And the same can be said for the R1 cattle he currently has grazing the paddock. “From our point of view as farmers, we’re consistently killing good numbers of lambs every draft, or cattle; for us as a farm it’s based around high quality feed and a sustainable cropping rotation.”