Barenbrug Offers Advice on Reducing Silage Shortfall

Forage grass experts from Barenbrug will be on hand at Agriscot to offer attendees advice on how best to maximise grass yields in 2018 - to boost profitability and ensure a surplus of silage in future years.

Across Scotland and the North of England it’s been a difficult summer for silage producers. In late October it was reported that many farmers are facing a severe silage shortfall this winter because of incredibly wet summer weather. Relentless rain, with very few back-to-back dry days, meant many farmers found it difficult to cut and collect grass as planned.

Mhairi Dawson, Research & Development Manager for Barenbrug UK

Mhairi Dawson, Research & Development Manager for Barenbrug UK

Commenting, Mhairi Dawson, Barenbrug’s Research & Development Manager, and a Scottish farmer herself, said:
“Weather challenges seem to be increasing rather than lessening in Scotland – and this year was no exception. The start of the year was incredibly dry. In April, the UK experienced just 47% of expected rainfall, with Edinburgh experiencing its driest month on record since 1959. With so little rain, new grass growth was exposed to early stress. Then, adding insult to injury, we experienced the fifth wettest summer on record - which made cutting in some places almost impossible.”

Continuing she said:
“It’s really difficult to offer farmers advice in this kind of situation - where the main problem is getting out in the field to work on the grass that’s available. Obviously we can’t change the weather so the next best step is to try to maximize grass growth at all times to provide a bit of a buffer. Growing extra grass when the conditions are good can help make low yield years more bearable. To do this, farmers should think about reseeding regularly - picking varieties from Recommended Lists that are proven to perform and have the right heading dates for local conditions.”

Earlier this year, Barenbrug calculated that farmers that don't reseed could be missing out on grass dry matter worth around £360 per hectare (ha) on a two-cut silage system. A sward established at the end of the 2017 grass-growing season has the potential (in 2018) to produce around 11.63 tonnes (t) of dry matter (DM) per ha from two cuts4. That’s around 2.6 tDM/ha more grass than an old field made up of 50% weed and 50% productive species, which would typically yield around 9 tDM/ha. Costs are based on the assumption that DM is valued at £140/t and gains calculated do not take into account any additional cuts or autumn grazing that could increase yields further.

During Agriscot, the Barenbrug team will be available to talk to farmers about any grass growing challenges they are facing. Advice will be available on specific grass varieties and mixtures that are suited to Scottish growing conditions. Products include Caledon - an intermediate tetraploid perennial ryegrass that has been bred to offer obvious improvements in yield and disease resistance. Caledon has a very high total cutting yield in year one and three (108 and 105); a high second cut yield of 117; and good second cut quality of 72.30. Barenbrug will also be promoting Bardoux at Agriscot. The latest product from the company’s soft-leaved tall fescue breeding program, Bardoux combines drought tolerance and winter hardiness with improved yield. Crucially it also offers good digestibility providing just the right balance of feed value and fibre.


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