GrassCheck walks to demonstrate how to make the most of autumn grass

Three GrassCheck dairy and beef farms across Northern Ireland will open their gates for a series of grass open days set to take place later this month.

AgriSearch, the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) are organising the events to focus on the different areas of grassland management and budgeting for a potential shortage of winter feed.

The main talking points will include the variability, utilisation and optimisation of grass growth.

Variation

Variability in grass growth and quality are continuously at the forefront of farming life, and they often vary from year-to-year and field-to-field.

These seasonal and field variations will be explored and will illustrate how regular measurement of grass has allowed the showcased farmers to be pro-active and enhance their grass growth.

Utilisation

Recent drought conditions across Ireland and the UK have seen grass growth levels well below the expected in recent months. It is extremely important that farmers maximise growth and utilisation of grass in the autumn.

Each farm walk will examine what is achievable from grass in the autumn. They will also offer farmers advice on how to plan nutrient applications and grazing practices in order to achieve this.

Optimisation

Even with optimal autumn grass management, it is likely that many farms will still be short on winter fodder this year.

The GrassCheck farm walks will aim to provide guidelines to farmers on how best to prepare their farms for looming fodder shortages, including how to carry out a fodder budget to assess stocks relative to demand.

Emphasis will also be placed on options for bridging any gaps between supply and demand.

The three farm walks will take place on the following days:

  •  August 16 – Henry Stewart (Dairy), 27 West Street, Stewartstown, Co.Tyrone at 10:30am;
  •  August 21 – John and Andrew Dale (Dairy), 287 Ballyquin Road, Limavady, Co. Derry at 10:30am;
  •  August 21 – Wayne Acheson (Beef), Tullylagan Road, Sandholes, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone at 7:00pm.

In the interests of biosecurity, those who are attending the farm walks are asked to wear clean clothing not previously worn while in direct contact with their own animals.

Outdoor work boots should not be worn. Protective overalls and footwear will be provided on each day.