Rejecting ‘one size fits all’ could bring real benefits to farmers

Tailoring any investment in pasture improvements and nutritional supplements to the particular needs of individual farms is the surest way of seeing financial gains; that was the message of the guest speakers at the latest ON-Farm 2016 event organised by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

The workshops, held at Coleg Cambria at Llysfasi near Ruthin, brought together experienced farmers, agricultural students, and four leading academic experts at the forefront of new research in the industry. The event was part of a series of conferences organised by HCC to bring the fruits of its Research and Development (R&D) activity directly to farmers, in order to encourage innovation and best practice.

The Llysfasi event had a special focus on grassland, with speakers from the University of Nottingham and Aberystwyth’s IBERS giving their insights on how grassland research can bring tangible benefits to drought and flood resistance and animal health. A special workshop with Llysfasi students was held in the afternoon, with an open meeting in the evening.

HCC’s Industry Development Officer Gwawr Parry highlighted the practical information that farmers could take home with them from the event. She said, “Nottingham’s Professor Kevin Sinclair revealed that cobalt deficiency in sheep costs up to £35 million to the industry, while his colleague Dr. Nigel Kendall’s research showed that looking at grassland and environmental factors on individual farms was a more efficient way of dealing with the problem than expensive mineral supplements.”

“Grassland expert Chris Duller outlined the ways in which farmers can make informed choices about which varieties of grass and clover would suit their systems best, leading to significant productivity gains,” she added, “and Professor Marshall from IBERS was able to show how a major research project, part-funded by HCC, would lead to grassland which had better drought and flood resistance, while maintaining high yields.”

Dr. Julie Finch, HCC’s Head of Corporate Strategy, was delighted with the attendance at the event. “This new series of ON-Farm innovation events are proving to be extremely popular with farmers and with our future farming generation,” she said. “It is the HCC investment in R&D that will help to shape the tools available to our farmers, now and in the future. Our ON-Farm 2016 events such as the grassland workshop in Ruthin will hopefully make an important contribution to developing the profitability and sustainability of the sector.”