Forage Value Index helping dairy farmers choose the right pasture varieties

Dairy Australia has recently expanded its popular Forage Value Index (FVI) tables for the 2023 ryegrass sowing season to assist farmers in making better choices when choosing ryegrass cultivars which could mean as much as $250 per hectare per year of increased net profit.


Australian dairy farmers invest significant amounts of money annually on renovation of ryegrass pastures to grow feed for their herds. According to the Australian Seed Federation, in 2021 approximately 11% (1 billion litres) of Australia’s total milk production came directly from newly sown pastures. To ensure farmers are getting the best value for their money when choosing ryegrass cultivars, Dairy Australia annually produces its innovative Forage Value Index.


The FVI is a tool for farmers and producers which independently ranks varieties of ryegrass according to their potential contribution to overall farm profit. Initially released in 2017 by Dairy Australia for perennial ryegrass following similar initiatives in Ireland and New Zealand, the FVI has been updated each year since as new varietal trial results became available, as well as being expanded to include annual and Italian ryegrass. 


The FVI uses the latest research to provide farmers and advisors with an easy, accurate and independent assessment of the potential economic value of perennial, annual and Italian ryegrass cultivars under Australian conditions.


The FVI rating system helps farmers and advisors make more informed decisions when selecting ryegrass cultivars to help farmers increase pasture productivity at key times of the year and ultimately improve farm profitability. The data used to create the FVI is sourced from the Pasture Trial Network – a collaboration of seed companies, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Dairy Australia, which conducts independent trials across the country. 


The FVI ratings system is based on similar best practice and was developed in close consultation with farmers, the seed industry and fully-qualified internationally recognised experts.


Across all dairying regions of Australia, farmers and their advisors are currently making decisions about which ryegrass cultivars to plant. The vast majority of Australian dairy farmers will sow either annual, perennial or Italian ryegrass on their farm this year and with a difference of over $250 per hectare per year of net profit predicted in the FVI between the highest and lowest yielding cultivars. 


“It’s of utmost importance for farmers to select varieties which have the best chance of being profitable,” said Dairy Australia’s FVI Lead, Ruairi McDonnell.  “There are many ryegrass cultivars to choose from but Dairy Australia’s FVI tables provide farmers with independent assessments in an easy-to-use format to ensure they are making the right choices for their farm, in their region.”


Farmers can download the 2023 FVI tables now to plan their autumn pasture sowing at


The detailed Pasture Trial Network results from across a broad range of Australian dairy regions are also available on the MLA website for farmers to consider those results in any seed purchasing decisions. 


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