Forty farmers had in mind minimising livestock feed costs
when they attended a Grassland Challenge demonstration on
protein crops and maize day on Tuesday 21st June at Duchy
College Farm, Stoke Climsland, Callington. Representatives
from the various seed, fertiliser, agrochemical and feed firms
sponsoring the demonstration were available for technical
advice as farmers toured the crops.
Tim Martyn, Grassland Challenge
Extension Officer discusses the protein crops during the morning
tour of the demonstration plots
A continued upward trend in the cost of ruminant protein
straights (soya bean meal, etc) has increased interest in
home grown protein crops. However, a range to choose from
and no single source of information available to farmers means
that selecting the right crop for their farm could be a lottery.
Grassland Challenge aims to fill this gap by demonstrating
crops of red clover / perennial ryegrass (hybrid and high
sugar), white clover / perennial ryegrass, lucerne / timothy,
forage peas, forage brome, white lupins / triticale, blue
lupins and white lupins. Forage brome is still under development,
but the other crops are all viable options for farmers to
consider. Yield, nutritional quality and cost of production
data were presented and problems encountered at the site discussed
so as to make farmers aware of potential pitfalls.
David McNaughton of Soya UK discusses
lupins during the Grassland Challenge Demonstration Day
Lupins whether grown as a monoculture for whole crop silage,
crimping or dried grain, or in a mixture with triticale (to
add starch) for whole-cropping, have great potential in the
right location, as do forage peas. For those looking for perennial
crops, red clover / ryegrass swards may suit, or a lucerne
and grass mixture on deep top soils. White clover / ryegrass
swards are best suited to grazing situations but can be harvested.
Graham Parnell of Advanta discussing
Ian Harley gave a demonstration of how the Farmworks GPS
guidance system can be used to improve the accuracy and efficiency
of spray and fertilizer applications. The farm management
software programme 'Farm Trac', can be used for crop record
keeping. It lets the user draw and farm their fields, keep
automatic notations for field history and chemical usage,
apply direct costs to each field and plan future farming operations.
The windows based software is designed to make record keeping
easier and to help users farm more profitably.
Nigel Hester of Yara doing maize
Maize remains a very popular forage crop and the demonstration
activity dealt with three topical areas for growers. With
the imminent withdrawal of the very effective pre-emergence
herbicide atrazine, which has been so pivotal for weed control
in maize, alternative herbicides were demonstrated. Alongside
this, the possibility of over-sowing maize with clover mixtures
for entry level stewardship and cross compliance was also
discussed. Finally the optimum use of manures and fertilisers
to encourage more precision in matching soil nutrients to
crop requirements, thus cutting growing costs, was demonstrated.
The strategy also has the added advantage of avoiding or reducing
environmental problems caused by nitrate and phosphorus loss
to water courses. Copies of the protein and maize crop handouts
are available from the Grassland Challenge office.
Tony Smith of Syngenta explaining
alternative herbicides for maize
Grassland Challenge is a partnership project led by Duchy
College on behalf of the Cornish Grassland Societies in association
with the Institute of Grassland & Environmental Research
(IGER). It aims to improve the competitiveness of grassland
and forage producers in Cornwall through technology transfer
and dissemination of best practice.
For further information please contact Hazel Burton at the
Grassland Challenge Office on 01579 372295.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Grassland Challenge,
through the European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439
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