Published Wednesday, 17th July 2013 in SAC Consulting news
While the recent outstanding summer sunshine has done much to brighten the mood of farmers across the country the problems underlying their pastures remain.
An on going demonstration project, aimed at helping grassland farmers address the disastrous legacy left by previous months of cold wet weather, will open its doors at the Oatridge campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) near Broxburn on Thursday 1st August.
According to specialist Rhidian Jones, from the SAC Consulting arm of the Rural College:
“The grass fields look so much better now and it’s easy to forget how late the spring was and how much growing time has been lost. However the earlier forecasts of grass crops only yielding 70 to 80% of their potential still hold true while reserve stocks of silage and hay have been used up. We believe the trials underway at Oatridge can help farmers address issues of worn out pastures and reduced fodder reserves. There will be a lot to think about.”
Added to the team of grassland experts from SRUC will be Charlie Morgan of Grassmaster Ltd. He has over 20 years experience of research and advisory work with the much respected IGER organisation in Aberystwyth.
With the help of students at Oatridge a series of short term grass seed mixtures have been sown on the campus farm with the aim of producing bulky silage crops to supply winter forage for livestock. Other fields have been renovated by oversowing existing pastures. The work has been carried out in conjunction with Watson Seeds, while students are monitoring and recording the results. Both the short term ley pastures and the fields sown in May with red clover were harvested in early-mid July and the initial results will be available for visitors to see.
“The Soil and Drainage event held at Oatridge earlier this year was a great success,” says Rhidian Jones. “We believe this open day will prove equally popular. We learned then what farmers were desperate to know and we have tried to address their concerns. Taking another look at soil and grassland management on their farms could help improve both farm efficiency and resilience to a changing climate in what has been a challenging year. They will have a chance to speak to independent experts and commercial companies.”
The meeting starts with presentations in the Arran room at Oatridge from 11.00 am, before a free lunch at midday. In the afternoon the action moves out to the farm where the issues addressed will include the benefits of good soil management, improving grassland production, growing short term bulky crops for silage, establishing a red clover sward for silage and grazing, with a demonstration of the benefits of soil aeration on grass production. In the interests of biosecurity visitors are asked to wear footwear suitable for disinfection.
While the event is free it will help those arranging catering if those planning to attend register with Sandra Laing at the SAC Consulting office at Bush outside Edinburgh Sandra.Laing@sac.co.uk on 0131 535 3430. For more information on the trials contact Rhidian Jones on 07919 691 841 or Rhidian.Jones@sac.co.uk.
SRUC acknowledges the support for this project given by Watson Seeds and the Scottish Government funding as part of its Success Through Knowledge campaign and Farming for a Better Climate initiative.
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