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Bumper grass growth in August a bonus for Welsh livestock farmers

Bumper grass growth in August a bonus for Welsh livestock farmers

2020 has seen an extremely dry spring followed by a wet summer for some, but how has this impacted on grass growth on Welsh farms?

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) will discuss the challenges of the 2020 grass growing season in its next online webinar on 12 October 2020 at 7:30 pm. The webinar will highlight results from the GrassCheckGB research project and will feature Dr Debbie McConnell from Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Northern Ireland and Welsh GrassCheckGB farmer, Alwyn Phillips.

GrassCheckGB aims to improve grassland productivity and pasture utilisation, with fifty livestock farms across Britain including nine beef and sheep farms in Wales, closely measuring their grass yields, soil moisture and weather.

Dr Debbie McConnell, is a grassland researcher at AFBI where she is managing a number of industry-related research projects including the GrassCheckGB project.

Alwyn Phillips of Pen-y-Gelli farm, Caernarfon has been part of GrassCheckGB since the project started in 2019. Pen-y-Gelli is a lowland farm made up of 110 acres of owned and 45 acres rented land with 20 Limousin cattle and two flocks, 250 Poll Dorset sheep and 200 Texel sheep.

Current growth rates across the UK are similar to last year, although on average GrassCheckGB farmers are 1.2 tonne of Dry Matter per hectare (t/DM/ha) down compared to 2019, and this could be as a result of the dry weather experienced in May and June.

However, Wales has grown the most grass so far after a very good August growth and is only down by 0.2 t/DM/ha on last year’s figures. August 2019 saw Welsh farmers grow on average 1.8t/DM/ha, August 2020 has allowed farmers to grow 2.2t/DM/ha, significantly helping farmers meet their forage requirements.

The webinar will start at 7:30 pm and following the presentations by Dr Debbie McConnell and Alwyn Philips there will be a question and answer session. Registering for the webinar is essential, and can be done here.

This project is a collaboration between Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) together with CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) and researchers at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Rothamsted Research, as well as industry sponsors Germinal, Waitrose & Partners, Sciantec Analytical, Datamars Livestock and Handley Enterprises Ltd. CIEL is supporting the purchase of equipment on farms through funds from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency.

The work was financed from the £3.5 million fund of AHDB red meat levies ring-fenced for collaborative projects which is managed by Britain’s three meat levy bodies – AHDB, HCC and QMS. The fund is an interim arrangement while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at point of slaughter in England for animals, which have been reared in Scotland or Wales.

 

Written by Nia Davies, HCC Research and Development Officer

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