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Forage planning increases milk production in Brazil by 40%

23 December 2020

The forage planning has proven effective for increasing milk production in the properties Bucket Full of Rio Grande do Sul.

Members farms data from the program indicate that the use of perennial and early grazing, as well as other technological adjustments in animal husbandry, increased in up to 40% milk production per cow, bringing an innovative character to forage management and encouraging producers who participate in the project in the state.

Planning the property for the cultivation of pastures is a task that requires knowledge about the production environment and technical advice. Soil analysis, to correct acidity and fertilization, for example, is one of the basic tasks. But another general aspect, in addition to the search for increased production, has led to the pasture management work carried out on the properties of Balde Cheio in RS: the forage voids that occur in the state during the transition periods between the hot and cold seasons of the year.

The alternative found by technicians to tackle the problem was the perennialization of forage production, with the use of pastures such as BRS Kurumi , BRS Capiaçu and typhons (perennial forage grass), in addition to the Sudan grass BRS Estribo , which despite not being perennial, has the possibility of early sowing and a long production cycle.

“The innovative aspect is to offer perennial summer pastures as an alternative to forage voids, and as a result, they also provide pasture until the fall of the following year, because they conclude the cycle with the arrival of winter and the presence of frosts”, explains analyst at Embrapa Clima Temperado Sérgio Bender, one of the coordinators of Balde Cheio in the state.

According to the researcher at Embrapa Pecuária Sul , who is also one of the program coordinators in RS, Renata Suñé , the perennial plants present many benefits to the production systems.

“One of the advantages of perennial forages is that at the beginning of the favorable season, they are already established and with their root system developed. This allows for rapid production of fodder and consumption.

In addition, although they have a higher initial implantation cost, in the following years the cost is very low, since it depends only on referitilization. Another advantage is that, due to the more robust root system, they better protect the soil from trampling and, since they are perennial, they do not have periods of bare soil, as in the case of the implantation of annuals”, he highlights.

According to agronomist Adriana Vargas, who represents the Maronna Foundation and serves a Balde Cheio property in Alegrete (RS), forage planning is a fundamental step for the success of the dairy activity, especially if the production system is based on pasture, as in the case of the western border of the state.

“In the Balde Cheio project, it is one of the fundamentals to have a low-cost and stable production throughout the year”, he points out.

In the properties served, the planning is also structured to minimize the negative effects of the autumn and spring forage voids, as well as the drought.

“The producer is guided by the technicians to implant species and varieties that suit the type of soil and the production system of his property. The summer perennials typifton 85 and BRS Kurumi (photo on the left) are some recommended varieties, as well as the Sudan grass BRS Estribo, which has stood out as a forage very adaptable to different types of soil and fertility, mainly due to its deficit tolerance. water”, points out Vargas.

Annual grazing management presents problems in the off-season

Historically, milk producers in RS use annual summer and winter pastures. In winter, the preference is for oats and ryegrass and in summer, for millet. “This management strategy generates a problem of forage void in the off-season, when the cycle of one crop ends and the cycle of the other has not yet started”, explains Bender.

The annual summer pastures end the production cycle until the month of April and the annual winter pastures begin the cycle from the month of May. Thus, the months of April and May are a critical period in the South of the country. Likewise, the months of October, November and December will also present a lack of food in the countryside.

“It is necessary to have pastures in place for this off-season. Early and perennial pastures have been showing good performance in research experiments for milk production”, ponders the analyst.

Results are highlighted in milk production

The Balde Cheio project has been running for one year in Rio Grande Sul, and after the continued technification of technicians and producers (even with the pandemic, there was virtual monitoring), one of the integrating properties, in the town of Barão, in the Serra Gaúcha region, comes increasing its production by conquering 1,350 liters of milk more per month.

According to the technician trained by the Leison Prediger project, this means that there was an increase of 40% in the average increase in production per cow.

“The implementation of the project also resulted in food savings for more cows, as the herd was reduced by five cows (the reproductive and dairy performance of these animals was evaluated and those that did not produce were discarded), leaving food for the rest. Another positive factor of this production result is the greater availability of dry matter due to the choice of better quality forage alternatives”, he analyzes.

Technicians Ederson de Andrade and Jaqueline Bernardi also point out a significant change in one of the participating properties, located in Soledade, also in the mountain region. A year ago, the producer had 10 cows, reaching between seven and eight liters per cow / day, but lost two of those animals. It dedicated only one hectare of pasture to feed dairy cows and offered native land, with part of the property leased for soy planting.

With the management strategies of the project, the producer was able to acquire two more cows, and thus returned to having a herd with 10 animals, in addition to acquiring five more calves for breeding by improving the genetics of the cows, using insemination techniques.

"The rural producer recovered his area, increased the availability of native fields and was able to plant winter pastures used in this season of 2020. With new technological adoptions in forage planning, this winter, he achieved an average production of 18 liters per cow / day", reports Ederson.

“The producer has tripled his production and regained his confidence in technology and this justifies the investments that were made and lived by the family, who also managed to make improvements in his residence. They went from selling milk between 1,800 and 2,000 reais a month, reaching 6,500 to 7,000 reais a month today”, adds the technician.

The 15-hectare property now has a new agricultural design: six hectares for pasture cultivation, one hectare of corn for silage production, and the remaining hectares for grazing the dairy herd in a native field.

Also present in Fronteira Oeste, in Alegrete, Balde Cheio delivers results. According to the technical instructor for the project Juliano Alarcom Fabrício, forage planning has been making a difference in the region. “In a Demonstration Unit of 100 hectares, we started with the cultivation of oats, ryegrass and improved seeds in just seven hectares, leaving a dairy production of seven liters / day / cow and changing, in the winter of 2020, to 30 liters / day / cow," he says.

According to Fabrício, in the same property, in the spring, it was possible to minimize the forage voids of this period by using irrigation under the pasture areas. In these properties, perennial pastures, tifton grasses, forage were used, which also contributed to the performance of the animals, which started to be stocked in the field under grazing between seven and ten cows / ha, allowing the use of the other areas for other crops

In search of the growth of dairy farming

The South Region of the country ranks second in Brazilian milk production in 2020. Upon reaching production goals higher than expected, the Brazilian agro stands out with constant and permanent growth rates during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic. This fact has stimulated the production chain, since in 2019 the Socioeconomic Report of the Rio Grande do Sul Milk Production Chain , carried out by Emater / RS , pointed to a loss of about 46 thousand milk producers, between the years 2015 and 2019, a reduction of 23.16%. According to the technical assistance and rural extension company, this same study makes a projection for 138 thousand producers to abandon the dairy sector in the next ten years.

Faced with this problem, Embrapa comes up with technological solutions in order to technify the milk producer so that it remains in business. From Balde Cheio, continuous training of technicians is carried out throughout Brazil, within rural dairy properties, involving the partnership between technical instructors and rural producers.

The program returned to the south of the country in August 2019, in two regions of RS: Serra Gaúcha, when contemplating the municipalities of Nova Petrópolis, Soledade, Barão and Vila Flores, with support from Cooperativa Piá; and Fronteira Oeste, centralized in the municipality of Alegrete, which includes seven rural properties, in partnership with the Association of Milk Producers - Acripleite, and includes the Maronna Foundation's experimental milk production area. The project in the state is identified as Balde Cheio in Rio Grande do Sul.

The work developed with forage planning technology, for example, is an alternative raised by agricultural research for this sector and is applied within the project. Through this technological adoption, feeding is no longer a difficulty for the production of animals, as there are different cultivars of forage offered to meet the varied needs of each production system.

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