See the grass growth figures of a top dairy farm

David Murphy from Co. Armagh looks set to take the Yara Grass Prix title this year.

The dairy farmer has produced 18.7t/ha of grass dry matter with a cumulative protein and energy yield for first and second silage of 2,680kg/ha and 203,150mj/ha respectively.

The Armagh native has produced approxiamatley 20,000mj/ha more then the previous winner.

Grass is the most important feed for the dairy, beef and sheep sector and with the competition in its second year it aims to highlight this said Jez Wardman of Yara.

He said that very few livestock farmers fully appreciate the real financial value of grass.

Grass yields are currently being monitored on farms across the UK and Ireland as part of the Yara Grass Prix where the financial value of the grass is calculated based on the Metabolisable Energy and Crude Protein contents, he says.

The range is enormous, with the value of grass ranging from €27-83/t fresh weight or €146-186/t dry weight.

Paying more attention to grass can increase its value based on its energy and protein content, he said.

He added that this increase in feed value will result in huge savings in feed costs and improve the finances of any livestock business.

Yara’s Jan Jensen also said that the aim of the competition is to illustrate the value of grass and grass silage in comparison to other feeds.

A regional manager from Yara collects a sample of grass post-mowing and also calculates the Dry matter yield of the crop, he said.

“The grass is then analysed to show its nutritional value. The competition will show that too heavy of a crop may have lower energy and nutritional values.”

He added that the farmers involved in the competition have high competencies in grassland management and realise that better quality silage will reduce their reliance on other forms of feed during the winter months.

“It is not all about making silage but getting as much quality grass into the animal as possible. Higher silage qualities will result in lower amounts of additional feeds during the winter months,” he said.

He also said that the first cut silage yields are back compared to the 2014 results, but the energy value of the grass is higher.

The weather also has an impact on the quality silage, he said.

“The winner of the competition last year will not feature in the results this year as a result of the poor weather they experienced in Scotland in 2015..”

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