Archive: Plotting the future

Published 29 August 14

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Plotting’ the future

With reseeding estimated to cost over £500/ha farmers are only too aware of how important it is to maximise returns through careful variety selection and sward management. To help us make the most of these varieties, DairyCo and EBLEX, in partnership with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), are investigating how cultivars perform both with clovers and under low nitrogen conditions. In addition, the ruminant levy boards are also helping to fund the latest round of recommended list testing, says DairyCo, the levy funded independent organisation for British dairy farmers.

August and April are regarded by many as the best two months to reseed and so at this time of year information and lists from seed suppliers are in abundance. But, what work goes on behind the scenes to compile the lists?

The England and Wales Recommended Grass and Clover List (RGCL) is produced, following extensive testing trials, funded by plant breeders through the British Society of Plant Breeders and ruminant levy boards. The list is widely distributed by the industry and is available both in pdf format and in an online searchable tool, available at www.dairyco.org,uk/rgcl

Variety trials are conducted at six locations across GB to account for the impact of differing soil and climatic conditions. Currently, there are 488 varieties being tested including 250 perennial ryegrass varieties. These trials seek to identify varieties with improved yield and quality. Recently, at a trial site in Dartington, Devon, leading grass researchers, dairy and beef farmers with industry experts, gathered to discuss how to make the most out of new leys.

Simon Kerr, Head of Crop Evaluations at NIAB says: “The RGCL testing is valuable to farmers because grass is the least expensive option available for feeding ruminants and it’s our role to ensure that farmers know how to maximise their return. From the industry’s perspective, breeders of grasses and clovers invest time and effort to bring seeds to market, with numerous varieties being submitted for carefully monitored trials. Farmers can be confident of the outcomes as the trials are robust, with only 10% of the seeds submitted for evaluation achieving the necessary approvals, for entry onto the recommended list.”