Assess your grassland to ensure productivity

GRASS is a critically important crop for most livestock farms and yet it can deteriorate rapidly if close attention is not paid to its maintenance and management.

The cost of a tonne of home-produced grass dry matter is less than half that of a tonne of bought in feed of the same energy value, so maximising livestock output from this low-cost feed is essential in protecting future livestock profitability.

Unfortunately, good grassland management is not easy and as a result, many swards deteriorate rapidly and underperform throughout their life. On average managed grassland in the UK is performing at about 60 to 70 per cent of its potential.

Improving grassland output starts with the soil and moves onto the crop that is growing in the field. On average, by the time a field is ploughed it will contain about 40 per cent non-sown species.

For most underperforming fields that contain high levels of weed grass, ploughing and re-seeding is the only reliable way of bringing the field back up to standard.

Ultimately, some fields will need to be replaced and once that decision has been made choosing the correct mixture is vital as the new ley is an investment which, if looked after, will provide livestock with quality feed for many years to come.

The extra investment in buying a good mixture represents less than one per cent of the cost of producing a tonne of dry matter, so cutting corners at the mixture selection stage should be treated with extreme caution.

Here at Mole Agriculture, we have a highly technical approach to mixture design.

Not only are the highest-yielding grasses used, but their distribution of seasonal growth, heading date, sward density, forage quality, disease resistance and winter hardiness are all considered with equal importance. This approach to mixture design allows a mixture to be supplied that will meet the exact needs of the farm.

  • For more information on the Mole Agriculture range of mixtures, contact your local Mole Agriculture representative or Mark Hodgson on 01325- 504643.

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