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Grass growth: Hoping for a speedy recovery

Garden Agriland.ie

Growth rates took a knock last week – in some parts of the country – due to the lack of rain and soil moisture deficits (SMDs) experienced.SMDs are highest in the southern half of the country – ranging between 55mm and 70mm – with grass growth worst
'Growth rates took a knock last week – in some parts of the country – due to the lack of rain and soil moisture deficits (SMDs) experienced.SMDs are highest in the southern half of the country – ranging between 55mm and 70mm – with grass growth worst affected in this area.However, this is set to improve as, according to Met Éireann, the “coming week’s rainfall profile is likely to be above normal or well above normal due to the expected unsettled conditions forecast”; so it is anticipated that these SMDs will reduce over the coming week.This is very positive as AgriLand is getting reports of some farmers resorting to buffer-feeding silage in order to reduce the demand on their farms.In terms of average grass growth rates, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 72kg DM/ha in Ulster, 62kgDM/ha in Leinster, 64kg DM/ha in Connacht and 60kg DM/ha in Munster.A close eye should be kept on grass growth; once grass growth rates improve supplementation being fed should be reduced and demand matched to grass growth.Walk the farm twice weekly to monitor grass growth rates.For example: Three cows/ha, eating approximately 16kg of grass, equates to a demand of 48kg of DM/ha.If growth equals 50kg of DM/ha, only minimal supplementation is required.Advice in low growth rates If low grass growth rates (less than 40kg of DM/ha) persist, increase rotation length to greater than 25 days.Any surplus paddocks which have been closed for silage should be reintroduced into the rotation.Graze using a strip wire if the cover is greater than 1,700kg of DM/ha.Finally, increase meal being fed so that you don’t run down your average farm cover.If silage is required, feed your highest quality bales. . The post Grass growth: Hoping for a speedy recovery appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

Grass and herb mixes hold particular promise for sheep farmers

Garden Agriland.ie


'Ongoing research at University College Dublin (UCD) is pointing to the very real benefits of including a range of grasses, legumes and herbs in the leys grazed by breeding sheep and their lambs. “Our work is showing that such an approach can deliver real benefits in terms of overall dry matter yields, seasonality, persistency and lamb output,” said Dr.Tommy Boland, one of the scientists involved in the appropriately named SmartGrass project. “We know that swards containing a mix of grass, legume and herb varieties can yield up to 20t of dry matter per hectare without a requirement to spread nitrogen (N) fertiliser.” Boland was one of the speakers at the seminars hosted as part of the recent sheep event in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.He pointed out that a combination of factors will contribute to the yield potential of multi-species sward mixes.He added: “In the first instance, traditional grass varieties can piggy-back on the N fixing capabilities of legumes, such as red clover.Adding to the growth potential of these mixes is the deep rooting growth profile of herbs, including plantain and chicory. “This helps break up the soil but it also ensures that swards remain productive during dry spells, as was the case last summer across all of the UK and Ireland.Where grass is concerned, Cocksfoot has been shown to be a valuable contributor to grazing swards for sheep.Taking a multi-species approach has undoubted advantages where both biodiversity and environmental protection are concerned.The research at UCD has been developed in two primary directions.The first of these is to identify which is the best combination of species to include in specialised sheep swards; the second is to quantify the performance of ewes and lambs on such pastures.Boland admitted that more work is required to develop species of clover and a range of herbs which are more persistent under Irish conditions.However, in initial SmartGrass research, results are strongly suggesting that significant lamb growth rate gains can be achieved by using multi-species pastures, as opposed to single variety perennial ryegrass swards. “The real driver here is the improved performance that can be achieved from birth to six weeks-of-age,” said Boland.We believe this is a direct result of the improved milk output achieved by the ewes and the enhanced nutritional value of that milk.What’s more, these improvements are maintained right through to finishing.Boland also referred to research carried out in other countries, which points to the improved eating value of lamb, produced from animals maintained on herb-rich pastures.He added: “We hope to verify this potential attribute under Irish grazing conditions courtesy of the SmartGrass project.” . The post Grass and herb mixes hold particular promise for sheep farmers appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

Pics: See best practices for successful grass utilisation

Garden Agriland.ie

The mid-grazing season can be one of the most difficult times for managing grass on your farm.Pre-grazing yields can easily slip above the target level and in some cases, can make achieving optimum grass utilisation difficult.
'The mid-grazing season can be one of the most difficult times for managing grass on your farm.Pre-grazing yields can easily slip above the target level and in some cases, can make achieving optimum grass utilisation difficult.During the recent Moorepark Open Day, a grazing demonstration was on display to showcase the importance of grazing at the correct pre-grazing cover for optimum grass utilisation.Some plots on display showed the outcome of grazing at an ideal pre-grazing cover compared to grazing at a heavy pre-grazing cover.The plot above was at an ideal pre-grazing yield of 1,550kg of DM/ha.The plot contains 27% clover which was achieved through spreading 2kg of clover/ac.This plot contained a high amount of good-quality leafy grass.The positive effect this green-leafy grass would have on the bulk tank was noted on the day.The cows entered the plot (above) at a pre-grazing cover of 1,500kg of DM/ha.Through grazing at this pre-grazing cover, a target post-grazing residual was easily achievable.The plot (above) was the target residual left after grazing the paddock at the optimum pre-grazing cover.Grazing down to this target residual would maintain good-quality grass in the subsequent rotation.A high level of grass utilisation was also achieved.The plot (above) was on display to show the implications of grazing versus baling a heavy paddock such as this one.This plot would have contained a large amount of fibre due to its stemmy nature.Grazing this sward would have a negative effect on the herd’s milk production compared to grazing a leafy sward.The plot (above) was grazed at a heavy cover of 3,000kg of DM/ha.It was grazed six days ago and now has a cover of 550kg of DM/ha.Due to the large amount of poor-quality stemmy material left over after grazing, it was noted on the day that this would affect the grass quality in the subsequent round.On the day, some farmers had suggestions on how to correct a poorly grazed paddock such as this one.One farmer suggested topping the paddock while another suggested baling it the next time round.A further option which was proposed was to come into it earlier the next time – in approximately 10 days – which may affect growth rates but it would get you your residual.The plot (above) was baled instead of grazed.This plot had a cover of 50kg of DM/ha on it after six days’ regrowth.This plot had slower regrowths but contained only high-quality leafy grass.This demonstrated the benefits of taking a heavy paddock out for bales rather than grazing it. . The post Pics: See best practices for successful grass utilisation appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

Grass remains the priority feed for sheep

Garden Agriland.ie

Grass can account for 95% of breeding ewes’ total dietary needs, according to AgriSearch’s Dr.Elizabeth Earle. “High-quality grass contains up to 20% crude protein and has a metabolic energy value of 11 MJ/kg of dry matter,” she said.
'Grass can account for 95% of breeding ewes’ total dietary needs, according to AgriSearch’s Dr.Elizabeth Earle. “High-quality grass contains up to 20% crude protein and has a metabolic energy value of 11 MJ/kg of dry matter,” she said.Earle was one of the speakers at the series of technical seminars, hosted as part of the recent Sheep NI event in Ballymena.She added: “Grass costs between £0.06p and £0.07p/kg of dry matter to produce.The equivalent costs associated with silage and concentrates are £0.13p/kg and £0.27p/kg respectively.” Earle also pointed out that lamb can be produced almost entirely from grazed grass, adding: “This gives flock owners in Northern Ireland a very competitive production-based and marketing advantage. “Grazing trials have shown that it is possible to produce up to 14t of grass DM/ha on sheep farms.Up to 90% of this can be utilised on the back of either grazing per visits per sward per year. “To achieve this level of performance requires swards to have a 21-day rest interval between grazings.This is central to the factor of three rules: three days’ grazing; three weeks’ rest; and only grazing grass when it has three leaves fully extended.She continued: “Ewes and lambs should be introduced to paddocks, which have grass covers in the region of 8-10cm in height.” The AgriSearch representative highlighted the key role which the GrassCheck service is now playing within Northern Ireland’s ruminant sectors.She commented: It is providing real-time data on grass growth and quality from 48 commercial beef, dairy and sheep farms.Operated by AgriSearch and AFBI, the GrassCheck project monitors weekly grass growth and quality.It provides seven and 14-day grass growth rate forecasts to support farmers in managing pasture surpluses and deficits throughout the growing season.Each of the farmers involved has been equipped with the latest GPS rising plate-meters to measure grass covers.On-farm grass growth and quality are measured on a weekly and fortnightly basis, respectively.In addition, 24 weather stations have been deployed on these pilot farms to record a wide range of meteorological data from across Northern Ireland. “This cutting-edge technology is being used to provide farmers with up-to-date information of grass growing conditions and grass quality in their locality to help them make the most of this valuable resource,” Earle concluded. . The post Grass remains the priority feed for sheep appeared first on Agriland.ie .'

‘Operation PolliNation’ creates a real buzz

Garden Agriland.ie

Bee-friendly flowerbeds are popping up everywhere, as ‘Operation PolliNation’ creates a buzz.The CountryLife garden centre network is donating flowering perennials and wildflower seeds to 24 tidy towns’ committees and communities to help protect
'Bee-friendly flowerbeds are popping up everywhere, as ‘Operation PolliNation’ creates a buzz.The CountryLife garden centre network is donating flowering perennials and wildflower seeds to 24 tidy towns’ committees and communities to help protect species at risk of extinction.The farm and rural retailer, owned by Glanbia Ireland, is also giving free wildflower seeds to customers at its network of 14 CountryLife garden centres across Leinster and Munster and is highlighting in-store plants that are particularly pollinator friendly.CountryLife’s in-store horticulturalists are promoting natural pest control methods and providing free information for customers to help them to reduce or eliminate their use of herbicides.Across the wider Glanbia Ireland group, the company has added pollinator-friendly planted containers and ‘bug hotels’ in all of its company offices across the country.It has also distributed pollinator-friendly garden guidelines to its 2,000 staff.Glanbia Ireland’s Jessica Kelly said that ‘Operation PolliNation’ is designed to help further boost awareness among gardeners of the actions they can take to help biodiversity in their gardens.At the launch of the ‘Operation PolliNation’ programme were: CountryLife Castlecomer horticulturist Teresa Walsh with bumblebees, Sofia Moloney (6) and Pippa Wallace (7). Image source: Patrick Browne Extinction “One-third of our bee species are threatened with extinction.We want to play our part in protecting Irish bees.What better way to do this than helping our customers to sow Irish-grown plants that bees prefer,” Jessica said. “We also want to give back to our local communities in a visible way and support the tireless voluntary work done by our local tidy towns groups.The feedback from our own staff has been very encouraging and we’re keen that this spreads across the wider communities we work and live in.Operation PolliNation is not only for gardeners as farmers too can join the mission by taking simple actions such as allowing wildflowers to grow on the farm and providing nesting places or ‘bee and insect hotels’ for pollinators.Horticulturalist at CountryLife’s Castlecomer centre, Teresa Walsh, said that even gardeners with tiny pieces of ground can do their bit to help our bees.She said that it is critically important to choose the right site and proper terrain to get maximum results. “More and more customers are asking us what they can do to help our bees and which plants or seed to choose.We’re thrilled to be the drivers of Operation PolliNation.It is equally important though that seed bought is properly sown.Image source: Patrick Browne. “When choosing your pollinator patch, select wisely and do your preparation work.If you want to sow a wildflower garden, you need to prep and sow it properly. “Dig out a flat area and rake it off.Don’t add farmyard manure or anything – they don’t like or need extra feed.Scatter the seed and rake it off again to provide a light dusting over the seeds.This also stops birds feasting on them.Sprinkle with water, particularly if rain is not due within 48 hours,” Teresa said. “Wildflower gardens thrive in sunny, flat terrain.But there are also shaded mixtures on the market as well as others that give you even more colour.Once the flowers bloom, sit back, relax and enjoy and know you’re doing your bit to help pollinators do their work,” she said.Pollinating plants are available in all CountryLife garden centres or online at: countrylife.ie . . The post ‘Operation PolliNation’ creates a real buzz appeared first on Agriland.ie .'