Archive: Demo farm event

Published 29 August 14

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Out wintering cattle and assessing and alleviating soil compaction will be discussed at the next DairyCo-BGS Demo Farm day at Trink Dairy in St Ives, Cornwall, on Tuesday 16 September.

DairyCo is currently funding a four-year programme of research on optimum strategies for assessing and alleviating soil compaction and attendees will have the opportunity to hear the latest research findings from this work.

The open day will include:

  • How to assess soil compaction on farm
  • Causes of soil compaction
  • Sward lifting trial plot assessment – discussing pros and cons of using treatments at different times of the year. Can it lead to earlier turnout? What is the impact of grass growth in the following season?
  • Out wintering – how to reinstate ground after out wintering stock
  • Review of results so far from DairyCo-funded research by Research Partners Harper Adams University and SRUC.

Chris and Rachel Knowles run a 325-cow dairy herd, with 285 youngstock (25% Jersey x 75% Friesian) at Trink Dairy between Hayle and St Ives, Cornwall. Since the late 1990s, they have operated an extended grazing system. The grazing platform at Trink comprises 250 acres, with a further 250 acres off-land, all of which is down to either short or long-term grassland. 

In April 2014, the Knowles family agreed to become a DairyCo-BGS Demo farm, with the aim of translating information coming from agricultural research into management practices. 

Soils at Trink are generally light and free draining, being a sandy loam with a high organic content over granite parent-rock. Although these soils are more suited to extended grazing than heavier, wetter soils, Chris still notices the influence of soil compaction, especially where fields have been trafficked and during prolonged or torrential wet weather events.

Over recent years, Chris has been using a soil aerator annually, as a matter of course. As part of the DairyCo-BGS Demo Farms Project, the Trink Dairy has been running trials to investigate the influence on soil condition and grassland productivity of a) the type of aerator used and b) the timing of undertaking the aeration operation.