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Pick the right grasses to reduce farm costs

Farming | Published:

Knowing the performance characteristics of grass and clover is immensely useful for grassland producers.

Siwan Howatson, AHDB Dairy Scientist

It allows appropriate selection of varieties that will perform well for a particular system.

One of the best ways to reduce costs is to produce more feed on the farm rather than buying it in and can have a big impact on your cost of production.

There is huge potential on most grassland farms to increase the amount and quality of the grass and clover that is grown and eaten using new grasses that are far superior for yield, digestibility and spring growth.

This year’s Recommended Grass and Clover Lists see eight new varieties of ryegrass and one red and one white clover added to the lists.

Only grasses and clovers that have undergone at least four years' of independent testing are included in the lists. Varieties are rigorously tested for factors such as total and seasonal yield, feed quality, disease and persistence before making the RGCL.

The lists are an invaluable resource for grassland farmers, enabling them to select varieties that will perform well in a particular system.

When thinking about reseeding, the RGCL should be used to check that the varieties being selected are on the lists and are the best available, helping farmers make informed decisions alongside their seed merchants about the ones that best meet their needs.

In addition to providing information on the varieties, the RGCL also includes a range of technical information for farmers on how they can manage their reseed and maximise the productivity of their grassland.

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The handbook and the full lists for merchants, as well as an online interactive version for perennial ryegrasses, are available on our website ahdb.org.uk

I’d encourage any farmers wanting to stay up-to-date with grass growth and quality data to sign up to receive our weekly Forage for Knowledge email. As well as the latest figures, you’ll also get access to relevant research and advice on grass, forage and soil management.

And if you’re keen to develop an autumn grazing plan and give yourself the best possible start for the 2020 season, come along to our workshop in Stoke on July 18. Booking details on the events section of our website.

Siwan Howatson, AHDB Dairy scientist

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