SAC #28: Climate Change & Drying of the South Islandís East Coast: Time to look at dry-tolerant temperate forages?


Thursday, 14 December 2006, 4- 5:30pm


Seminar Room, Centre for Innovation, 87 St. David St.


Miriam Titterton, Academic Operations Manager, Telford



Research in Zimbabwe showed that high quality silage could be produced in the semi-arid region of sub-Saharan Africa from intercropping legumes with either forage sorghums or pennisetums.. With an average rainfall of 250 mm pa, silages averaging a quality of ME 10.5 MJ/kg DM and CP 140 gm /kgDM were produced from forages with yields of 13-15 tons DM/ha. Forages used for the production of silage were Sugargraze (Pacific Seeds) forage sorghum and Bana Grass (ICRISAT). Legumes used were cow pea and dolichos bean (lablab purporeus). In Australia, there are many varieties of forage sorghum being used for grazing and for silage in dryland farming areas, both for dairy and for sheep and beef. The changing climate indicates that perennial ryegrass /clover pasture may no longer be viable in a drier South Island East coast, yet irrigation is becoming a debatable option. This suggests that research into the viability of cool- and dry- tolerant grasses such as tall fescue and cocksfoot and forage crops such as forage sorghums may be necessary. It would appear that forage sorghums are quite well established in the North Island and some varieties have been grown successfully in Canterbury for both grazing and silage.

About the Speaker

Dr. Miriam Titterton was born and raised a Zimbabwean, second generation, went to Natal University in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, for my first degree in Agriculture, then completed masters and doctorate degrees in Animal Science at the University of Rhodesia as it was ( it then changed to University of Zimbabwe). For the first ten years of her career, Titterton was in the Ministry of Agriculture as a dairy officer, ending up as Chief Dairy Officer for the country. This meant she was a Jack of All Trades, being farm management advisor, dairy inspector, milk tester and ministry representative on farm organisation committees. Titterton then joined the University of Zimbabwe as a lecturer and researcher and was there for twenty years. In the last five years I focused on research on forages for the long dry seasons we have in sub-Saharan Africa, firstly on maize /legume silages and forage sorghum silages for commercial dairy farming then on dry ?tolerant forages for silage for the small holder dairy farmer in the semi-arid regions. Much of Titterton?s work at the end was related to developmental research for the smallholder dairy farmer and she was project leader for seven large international donor-funded research and development projects in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

Titterton and her family operated a beef and dairy farm just outside of Harare, but emigrated to New Zealand in the midst of political upheaval in Zimbabwe. She and her husband spent their first year managing a dairy farm together, after which Titterton worked for Massey University before joining Telford Rural Polytechnic two years ago as the Academic Operations Manager. She tutors there in Animal Microbiology, Sheep Production, Pasture Management (feed budgeting) and Sustainable Agriculture and continues to have a strong interest in forages and silage production.