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Adoption of forage technologies 
¹Grasslanz Technology Ltd, PB 11008, Palmerston North. 
²AgResearch Ltd, PB 3123, Hamilton
[email address]
the inability to trial the technology without an 
Pastoral farmers seek to continue to increase on-farm 
irreversible and/or large commitment
productivity, and to do this they need new forage options 
•  An unclear cost-benefit relationship
that they can adopt into their current management 
However, in general, New Zealand farmers have 
strategies. Four case studies show that New Zealand  been rapid adopters of new forage technologies, such 
farmers have rapidly adopted new technologies that  as the herb chicory, and novel endophytes that have 
include forage herbs, white clovers with improved  been shown to improve perennial ryegrass persistence 
stolon growing point densities, and novel endophyte  and reduced animal health problems. Plant breeders 
technologies.  The less disruptive these technologies  have also attempted to achieve the compromise of high 
are to accepted farmer management strategies the  production and good persistence in important species 
greater the likelihood of adoption.
such as white clover. This paper attempts to show the 
Keywords: Forage technologies, adoption, chicory,  importance of these developments, and how willing 
white clover, endophytes
farmers have been to adopt them into their farming 
systems. This paper will show that some pasture 
based technologies are adopted and used by farmers, 
In 1918, Leonard Cockayne stated that “the yield of  sometimes rapidly but they all eventually succumb to 
meat or butterfat per acre is primarily a matter of the  new options and follow the normal bell shaped sales/
plant covering of the farm” (Cockayne 1918). This is 
marketing curve. In the process they generate increased 
still true today, and yet it is acknowledged that rate  income for the industry.
of pasture renewal may be lower than is optimal for 
economic growth in the pastoral sector.  
Chicory use in New Zealand 
New Zealand farmers are arguably the best in the  Although chicory originated in southern Europe, it 
world at adopting new pastoral technologies, which has 
was in New Zealand that chicory was first widely used 
enabled them to stay in the top rank of efficient food 
as forage (Li & Kemp 2005). Chicory has developed 
producers. In 1942, Hamilton observed that “a major  from a herb that was not used in New Zealand forage 
factor in the success of the New Zealand dairy  industry 
systems 28 years ago to where it is now often a key 
has been the readiness with which technological 
  component of high performance pasture and crop 
advances have been incorporated into farming  mixes for sheep, beef, dairy, and deer operations. In a 
practice, often enough under the stress of falling prices 
dry environment, cows can produce up to 90% more 
and the necessity to vindicate land values resulting  milk when fed on chicory-containing pasture relative to 
from  excessive optimism in periods of rising prices” 
perennial ryegrass (Chapman et al. 2008). Reasons for 
(Hamilton 1942). There is a body of literature  analysing 
this improved milk production include:
why farmers do and do not adopt technologies on-farm 
•  high protein levels (up to 26% crude protein, 
(Rogers et al. 1988; Davis 1989; Feder & Umali 1993; 
which may improve protein supply to dairy 
Sunding & Zilberman 2001; Rogers 2003; Flett et al. 
2004; Massey et al. 2004; Alvarez & Nuthall 2006).  
•  high digestibility and rapid passage through the 
These can be summarised as:
rumen, allowing high daily intake (Burke et al. 
•  The technology fails to address the real problem
•  The  technology  does  not  fit  easily  with  farmer 
Chicory quality does not deteriorate as much over 
patterns of work and the existing production  summer as can ryegrass quality, so there can be large 
quality differences between the two species in late 
•  Requirement for inputs (data) that are not familiar 
summer and autumn. With good summer moisture, 
or not available
chicory can produce over 20 000 kg dry matter (DM)/
•  Complexity, i.e., the perception that learning and 
ha/year, and have daily growth rates of 80 to 100 kg 
using a particular technology will be difficult; or 
DM/ha/day in summer/autumn. 

Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association 75:
Figure 1 
Puna chicory sales in New Zealand
Figure 2 
Volume of ‘Grasslands Sustain’ white clover seed 
sold to farmers in New Zealand
Puna  chicory,  bred  by  AgResearch,  was  the  first 
proprietary forage herb commercialised in New Zealand  hence persistence) while maintaining a medium-large 
(Rumball 1986). By the early 1990s, between 8000  leaf size (Caradus et al. 1996a).  This increased stolon 
and 10 000 ha of ‘Grasslands Puna’ chicory was sown  growing point density resulted from a high proportion 
annually in New Zealand (Moloney & Milne 1993).  of stolon nodes producing branch stolons, which 
The more modern cultivars, ‘Grasslands Puna II’ and  themselves rapidly produced nodes. 
‘Grasslands Choice’, were bred from Puna (Rumball et 
Lee  et al. (1994) used cluster analysis to identify 
al. 2003) and began to take over from Puna from 2003  white clover populations that were both high yielding 
onwards (Figure 1). However the proprietary chicory  and persistent, and found ‘Grasslands Sustain’ 
market in total  has developed into a 250-300 tonne/year  and ‘Grasslands Prestige’ were the best among 24 
business worth $1 700 000 (volume × wholesale seed  populations evaluated. Both of these cultivars were 
value) to the New Zealand seed industry.  This compares  bred for higher stolon growing point densities without 
to traditional forage species tall fescue $600 000; white  reducing the respective leaf size of the base population 
clover $2 900 000; cocksfoot $200 000; red clover  from which they were selected (Caradus et al. 1996b). 
$860 000; and lucerne $330 000, again based on the  Improved persistence was achieved through higher 
calculation of volume of seed sold multiplied by the  nodal populations while maintaining the greater yield 
wholesale seed dollar value. 
potential of larger leaf sizes. ‘Grasslands Sustain’ 
Based on the higher quality of chicory dry matter  became the market-leading white clover cultivar in 
compared with typical ryegrass/clover pastures, and the  New Zealand in the late 1990s and early 2000s (Figure 
reported yield of milk from chicory (Waugh et al. 1998),  2). It was eventually superseded by newer cultivars that 
this herb species is now considered a crucial component  provided improved yields but which are based on the 
of pastures providing high quality summer-autumn  same plant model – high stolon growing point densities 
feed. The decline in Puna sowing from the early 2000s  for a particular leaf size category.
onwards was due to the increase in sowing other chicory 
cultivars, suggesting that the total value of chicory to the  AR1 endophyte 
New Zealand pastoral sector has not declined.
Perennial ryegrass uses a symbiosis with an endophytic 
Chicory is now used in many temperate areas of the  fungus (endophyte) that grows within the plant to 
world as a pasture forage, including the USA (Ball  protect itself from some insect pests. Unfortunately, 
1997), Australia and South America.
in some endophyte strains the toxins produced to do 
this can cause animal health problems and reduce the 
Breaking the stolon density by leaf size 
amount of meat or milk produced by grazing animals 
relationship in white clover
(Thom  et al. 2012). AgResearch scientists have 
In white clover, yield and persistence were often  discovered considerable variation in the alkaloid profile 
negatively associated because leaf size and upright habit  of endophyte strains (Tapper & Latch 1999).
contribute to yield potential while stolon growing point 
AR1 was the second novel endophyte commercialised 
density contributes to persistence.  In general, large-
in  New  Zealand  in  2001.    The  first  was  Endosafe, 
leaved white clover genotypes have lower growing point  commercialised in 1992 and then withdrawn in one 
densities than small-leaved, less-productive genotypes.  cultivar due to its production of ergovaline, but continued 
In a world first, the cultivar ‘Grasslands Sustain’ was  in another where the host plant cultivar moderated the 
developed to increase stolon growing point density (and  ergovaline expression.  AR1 was released to provide 

Adoption of forage technologies (J. Caradus, S. Lovatt and B. Belgrave)
to AR1, Nil, and wild type endophyte also helps explain 
better agronomic performance where there is insect 
pressure (Popay 2004). 
The overall cost to a farmer of re-grassing a dairy 
farm has been estimated at $1559/ha, including 
herbicide and application, cultivation, grass and clover 
seed, fertiliser, drilling and replacement supplementary 
feed while the pasture is out of production for 9 weeks 
(PRCT 2013, p.8). The Pasture Renewal Charitable 
Trust estimated that regrassing would typically 
increase dairy production by 250 kg/ha (PRCT 2013, 
p.8), at a cost of $1559/ha in the first year. If AR37 was 
Figure 3  
Uptake of AR1 endophyte ryegrasses by New 
responsible for 84 kg MS/ha out of that 250 kg MS/ha 
Zealand farmers
total, it would be appropriate to attribute that fraction 
an endophyte that provided resistance to Argentine  (33.6%) of the regrassing cost to AR37 (with the rest 
stem weevil but did not cause ryegrass staggers (which 
being attributed to the modern ryegrass cultivar that 
results from the presence of lolitrem B (Fletcher 2004)) 
would carry the AR37). The same calculation assumed 
or heat stress (which results from the presence of  that 10% of the added value of the new grass would be 
ergovaline (Fletcher 2004)).  Trials with sheep showed  lost each year after the first (PRCT 2013, p.8), so that 
a 22% increase in returns to farmers through using AR1 
assumption has also been made for AR37.
over standard endophyte (Fletcher 1999).
According to LIC & DairyNZ (2012), the effective 
It was a non-exclusive release and had a rapid uptake 
area of dairy farms from the central plateau northwards 
in New Zealand.  AR1 is now licensed into 31 cultivars 
was about 715 000 ha. Conservatively assuming a 
through 10 companies, exported to Australia and Chile, 
regrassing rate of 3% would suggest that about 21 500 
and is being evaluated in USA, Europe, Uruguay and  ha were re-grassed each year. For the purposes of this 
calculation, we assumed that all new re-grassing in 
Uptake by New Zealand farmers since AR1’s full  this region from 2007 onwards used AR37 endophyte. 
commercial release in 2003 has been extraordinary,  While this was likely to overstate the amount of dairy 
such that, by 2008, AR1 was used in 70% of the  farm area in the northern North Island that was re-
proprietary perennial ryegrass seed sold. After 2008,  grassed with AR37 (especially in the first few years of 
the AR37 and NEA2 endophytes entered the market.  AR37 availability), it ignored the sheep & beef farm 
These provided a greater resistance to insect pests and  land in those regions that was regrassed with AR37 and 
AR1’s share declined. AR1 now holds close to a 30%  it ignored any dairy, sheep and beef farm land in other 
share of the proprietary perennial ryegrass endophytic  regions that was regrassed with AR37. 
seed sold. 
On that basis, the cumulative area regrassed with 
AR37 could be estimated at about 130 000 ha, now 
AR37 endophyte 
producing an additional 8.4 million kg MS each year, 
The  endophyte  strain  AR37  was  identified  along 
with a cumulative value to date to dairy farmers, net of 
with a number of other endophyte strains during the  the regrassing costs attributed to AR37, of $125 million. 
1980s and early 1990s. Subsequent research found 
In trials at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus, growth 
that AR37 did not produce the alkaloid compounds  during the summer and autumn for hogget/lambs on 
lolitrem, peramine or ergovaline, but it did produce a  pure ryegrass pasture averaged 29 g/day (assumes same 
unique indole diterpene-like compounds called epoxy-
growth rate in summer and autumn) for the standard 
janthitrems (Fletcher 2004). Epoxy-janthitrems were  endophyte, 74 g/day  AR1 and 93 g/day for AR37  
found to confer a wide range of tolerance to insect  (Fletcher & Sutherland 2009). 
pests, including Argentine stem weevil, black beetle, 
In early 2008, trials were undertaken to determine 
root aphid, pasture mealy bug and porina (Popay &  whether the measured increases in dry matter 
Bonos 2004). AR37 is also  more persistent and higher  production through using AR37 were being converted 
yielding at critical times of the year (Hume & Popay  into additional milksolids (MS) or meat. Trials by 
2004).  AR37 has also been noted to have increased  industry research organisation DairyNZ have shown 
ryegrass tiller numbers in trials before black beetle  total MS production over three consecutive lactations 
attack, which may also help explain better agronomic  was not affected by endophyte treatment – AR1, 
performance (Hume & Ryan 2007). Cumulative root  AR37 or standard endophyte (Thom et al. 2012). 
growth and increased root dry weight of AR37 relative  AgResearch  and  DairyNZ  scientists  identified  that, 

Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association 75:
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milksolids from the same pasture yield compared with 
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AR1, there was evidence that AR37 would persist and 
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