16 May 1997

Forage project examines cost

FORAGE systems for drought prone farms will come under investigation in a Milk Development Council-funded, three-year Kingshay project to be run in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Glos.

The project, which will start next summer, aims to identify forage systems to achieve low cost milk production under increasingly drought-prone conditions. It will look at two systems – one based on maize and lucerne, the other an arable/grass system.

Energy supply

In the maize and lucerne system, whole-crop wheat will be introduced as a further energy supply, and forage peas as a protein supply. The arable/grass system will concentrate on strategic buffer feeding and introducing red clover as a source of home-grown protein.

The project will be run at the RAC, with the 120-cow early autumn calving herd being split into two separately run groups, both of which will be fully costed.

Drought is a concern at the Cirencester site; free draining soil, combined with a May-to-August rainfall of only 200mm (8in) means that grassland production after first-cut silage is usually severely restricted.

&#8226 For more details on how the RAC is currently combatting drought concerns, watch out for our Managing Drought focus in coming issues.n