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27.06.05
Grassland Challege

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 cropsTim 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 UKDavid 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 LucerneGraham Parnell of Advanta discussing Lucerne

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 FYM/Fertiliser inputsNigel Hester of Yara doing maize FYM/Fertiliser inputs

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 maizeTony 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 (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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