First-cut grass silage© Tim Scrivener

Seed company Germinal is setting up a forage research station near Melksham in Wiltshire to run trials and projects aimed to help farmers make the most of home-grown feed.

The company has plans for more than 40 projects at the 4.45ha site including trialling new forage varieties under UK conditions, testing concepts such as multispecies leys and investigating the regrowth potential of hybrid brassicas.

The goal is to produce results and gain knowledge for UK farmers and the wider industry.

See also: AHDB launches management training scheme for farmers

Germinal GB managing director Paul Billings believes the project has come at the right time because the need to maximise returns from forage is greater than it has ever been.

“Greater innovation in the use of forage is the key to reducing cost of production in livestock farming,” he says.

“Lower costs are the only real antidote to increased commodity price volatility and the uncertainty that abounds as we approach Brexit.

“Having a bespoke R&D facility will allow Germinal to showcase market-leading varieties, test innovative ideas in UK conditions, and demonstrate at a local level alternative forage species or cropping systems that we are bringing in from around the world.”

Station management

The facility will be managed by forage crop specialist Joanna Matthews who will be leaving her role at Niab to take on the research station in January 2018.

Jo Matthews

Joanna Matthews, will run Germinal’s forage crop research station in Wiltshire from January 2018

Dr Matthews has a practical farming background, a BSc in agriculture and completed a PhD focused on the potential for fertility-building crops in mixed farming systems.