The drivers for pasture and crop growth are sunlight, temperature, water and access to nutrients.
The Murray Dairy region is able to capitalise on these key drivers, resulting in very high levels of feed production per hectare of land.
Even when temperature limits growth in winter, through the use of new and improved pasture species farms are achieving feed production for 12 months of the year.
The total feed grown on very well managed perennial pasture in the region will exceed 20 tonnes dry matter per hectare.
By employing effective grazing management, 70 per cent utilisation is achievable and the best pasture managers are achieving in excess of 15 tonnes dry matter utilised per hectare.
Even though the input costs will be higher on an irrigation farm compared to a farm in a high rainfall region, the combination of cheaper land and increased production per hectare reduces the cost per unit of feed grown and utilised.
The access to a reliable water supply also takes away a lot of the variability in amount of home grown feed compared to a rain fed regions, which adds further value.
There are also opportunities to double crop with the use of winter and summer fodder crops such as oats followed by maize.
There is a high level of management skill required and increased risk in double cropping but it also has the potential to increase the yield per hectare of land used in excess of 30 tonnes per hectare.