The value of cutting-edge grassland management to Welsh farmers has been highlighted at an open day on Anglesey, organised by the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies.
The event was held at Tre-wyn farm in Llanerchymedd on Anglesey, the home of Brian and Nia Bown who operate a mixed enterprise, finishing around 170 beef animals each year and maintaining a breeding flock of sheep as well as growing arable crops.
Attendees at the open day were able to pick up the latest edition of the grassland ‘bible’, the Recommended Grass and Clover List for England and Wales. The listings identify the best grass and clover varieties for beef, sheep and dairy farmers in the UK, drawing on research jointly funded by Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). This year, thirteen brand new varieties are listed, having gone through at least four years of independent trials.
“Effective grassland management can have a marked impact on farmers’ financial returns,” said HCC’s Industry Development Officer Gwawr Parry. “All of us at the open day in Llanerchymedd were impressed at the way Brian and Nia Bown maintain their pasture, using the latest ryegrass varieties which feature prominently in the Recommended Grass and Clover List, which enable them to finish livestock very effectively.”
HCC also showcases grassland research as part of its ON-Farm 2017 series of workshops which help to inform farmers about the latest new developments and expertise which can benefit their businesses.
Grassland consultant Chris Duller gave a presentation to farmers at a recent HCC ON-Farm workshop. He said, “There is a wealth of information in the Recommended Grass and Clover List to help you make informed decisions about your business and your investment.
“Any variety on the list is excellent, but they are all slightly different – and some will be more suitable for your system than others,” he added. “The balance of the mixture and grass type is more important than individual varieties.”
According to Mr. Duller, many beef and sheep farmers would benefit from experimenting with different grasses, using the information in the List, to finish their livestock more efficiently. “This is independent information, validated at many sites over many years,” he said. “Your farm is one big experiment – don’t be afraid to try new things.”
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.