2015-06-26   facebooktwitterrss

Spring Silage Success but Sharpen Sward Skills Between Cuts

Initial indications from farm visits undertaken by the agricultural grass team at Barenbrug during late May and early June seem to show that good average silage yields have been achieved across the UK this spring.

While crops did not grow particularly tall, Barenbrug reports that they were dense – probably because of the extra tillering that occurred over an extremely mild winter.


James Ingles, Head of Agriculture at Barenbrug UK, said: “Winter 2014 was the mildest on record for more than 30 years meaning perennial ryegrasses remained active in most parts of the UK from November to February. Obviously this was good news for farmers but it was a different story from March to May with a frosty finish to spring, and a cold start to summer, which hampered the final phase of grass growth. Our initial silage analysis test results seem to reflect this.”

Barenbrug undertakes a detailed analysis of silage every year – looking at results achieved across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. While the company’s spring 2015 review is still ongoing some interesting results are beginning to emerge. Silage tested is showing good water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) levels thanks to average sunshine hours. However, crude protein levels appear below par – probably because of colder spring soil temperatures, which can stop plants taking up nitrogen and converting it to protein.

Looking ahead, Barenbrug believes a good second cut could be on the cards for many UK farmers. Following the first cut, the fields that Barenbrug has assessed are looking very green – normally a good sign of fast regrowth. But the company is warning against complacency and urging farmers to use the time between cuts to assess the make up of their swards and plan what work is required ahead of next year’s growing season.

Concluding, James said: “Having taken the first cut, farmers will know which pastures are not performing and should think about earmarking them for replacement. Dairy farmers wouldn’t leave a three-quartered cow unseen to – and it should be the same with grass. Why persist with underperforming fields when you could tackle them head on and improve yields and profitability.”

To help farmers looking to renovate their grassland Barenbrug has developed a simple field indexing system that makes it easy to conduct a quick visual assessment of sward status and mark it on a scale of one to five. The guide also contains handy hints and tips so farmers can decide if a partial reseed is required or full-scale renovation.


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