Grass and clover list secured until 2016

An industry-led consortium is to provide producers with the opportunity to select the best grasses and clover for sheep and cattle pasture improvement.

A mixture of farming and horticulture industry leaders, including Eblex, DairyCo and the British Society of Plant Breeders, have secured the future of the Recommended Grass and Clover list until 2016. According to Eblex, this is the first time the full list, which has more than 4,000 data points, will be available to all farmers and merchants in England and Wales.

Having access to a list of independently tested varieties of grasses and clover, said Eblex beef and sheep scientist Dr Liz Genever, is more significant this year than in previous years. She said: “More re-seeding may be needed, due to the poor weather conditions we have experienced. As such, the Recommended Grass and Clover List will continue to play a crucial role as it provides essential information on the best-performing grasses and clovers available.”

The weather-damaged silage fields, Genever said, may have been further damaged through the removal of crops, “which does not only affect silage quality but future yields”, she added. According to Eblex, fields will need to be assessed as soon as possible for the loss of ground cover to maximise grazing potential.

Genever said: “Digging holes at various points around the fields will give you a good idea if compaction has been caused. The ideal kit for dealing with compaction problems varies – if it is between 1cm and 10cm, an aerator can be used, between 10cm and 30cm a sward lifter is needed, and if deeper, a plough or sub-soiler may be required.”

Yields will be compromised, Genever said, if swards have become very open at the base and if ground cover falls below 85%, which means yields will also be compromised and the risk of weed ingress will increase. However, recovery can be gained through tillering and infill by clover in the summer and autumn, but Eblex said the introduction of new seed is likely to be more effective when trying to restore ground cover — especially if levels are 70% or below.

Genever said: “If re-seeding is required, the Recommended Grass and Clover List is the perfect reference tool to ensure the correct types of grasses and clovers are present in the seeds mixture and that the individual varieties are the elite performers.”

The current Recommended Grass and Clover List can be obtained from www.eblex.org.uk/returns/literature.aspx. The full list will be hosted on the British Grassland Society website www.britishgrassland.com when data currently being collected is released next spring.

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