Show round-up: Getting more from grassland

Published 22 May 15

Getting more from grass was the theme at this year’s shared DairyCo, EBLEX and BGS stand at Grassland UK in Shepton Mallett earlier this month. The event saw farmers, trade and industry from across the UK gather together to discuss the latest developments in grassland agriculture. 

Healthy grassland soils

Soils were again on show at the event this year, with the new DairyCo-EBLEX healthy grassland soils guides available to collect on stand. Recent DairyCo-funded research has highlighted the economic cost of compaction, with losses exceeding £250 per hectare per annum from reduced sward productivity, lost grazing days and poorer nutrient use efficiencies on compacted soils.

DairyCo’s R&D manager, Dr Debbie McConnell, comments: “A healthy, productive soil is key to underpinning any profitable grassland system and careful attention must be paid to soil fertility, structure and biology to maximise the return from grass. The research has been investigating how effective soil looseners are at dealing with compaction, and the healthy grassland soils pocketbook helps outline if and when these should be used to aerate soil.”

Grassland Event

Grassland 2015

Recommended Grass and Clover List

This year’s recommended list of grass and clover varieties for England and Wales was also launched at the show. Ten new varieties, (nine perennial ryegrasses and one Italian ryegrass) joined this year’s list. Each of the varieties on the list is tested for a minimum of four years giving a robust picture of their yield, quality and disease resistance performance.

 “As few as one in 20 varieties make it onto full recommendation on the list so the varieties in the list are the best of the best,” Piers Badnell, DairyCo technical extension officer, comments. “By selecting the appropriate varieties to suit their system or purpose, producers can maximise the productivity of their grassland.”

The new lists are available to download from the DairyCo website where you can also access it in an interactive format.

Seminar series

Alongside the main stand, DairyCo, EBLEX and BGS, also ran a seminar programme throughout the day, discussing the key challenges and opportunities facing farmers in today’s industry.

Charlotte Evans, Technical Project Manager at BGS explains; “We’ve thought about what’s influencing the industry at present, what’s pertinent to business success and what grassland farmers need to know now. As a result, we’ve included seminars on aspects as diverse as getting to grips with CAP, weed control legislation and how to reduce feed costs through better silage management, and utilising home-grown protein sources.”

Look out for video recordings of all the seminar presentations on the DairyCo’s YouTube and in later editions of Forage for Knowledge.