New List helps sow the seeds of grass-based profitability

A grass seed industry reference list that can help farmers achieve better yields, greater competitiveness and improve profitability will be launched at the Royal Welsh Grassland Event at the Rhug Estate, Corwen on 9 June 2016.

Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) jointly funds the trials scrutinising grassland’s “league table”, the Recommended Grass and Clover List for England & Wales. It identifies the best grass and clover varieties for beef, sheep and dairy farmers in the UK.

Alongside the potential for directly increasing farm yields, profitability and competitiveness, the Recommended List also drives continued variety improvement by plant breeders, maintains UK-based plant breeding expertise and provides valuable independent data for the merchants who are creating and selling seed mixtures to farmers.

Chris Duller, an independent consultant specialising in soil and grassland management, emphasised the vital importance of the Recommended List for farm incomes. “The List represents quality, independently-verified data from years of field trials across the country,” said Mr. Duller, speaking at HCC’s recent ON-Farm 2016 workshop at Llysfasi which brought farmers and experts together to discuss grassland improvement. “The Recommended List can identify grasses that can give us 5-15 per cent extra production – either in terms of yield or quality. On farmers’ bottom line, that’s a big bonus.”

“Choosing the highest yielding varieties from the Recommended List for silage mixtures, taking into account current input costs, can mean as much as £110 per hectare per year of additional financial benefit to the farmer, compared with using some of the lower yielding varieties,” said Gwawr Parry, HCC Industry Development Officer.

“Only around one third of the varieties that can be marketed legally in England and Wales are recommended,” she said. “The Recommended List trials are combined with statutory National List variety registration trials and run to the same protocols. Only the best of those go onto be recommended.”