Royal Highland: Grassland management trophy winner revealed

Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Rhys James was praised for his attention to detail and highly efficient use of staff and machinery when he was awarded the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) Grassland Trophy on Tuesday (25 July).

The All Wales Grassland Management competition is organised by the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies in conjunction with the RWAS.

Mr James milks 430 NZ Friesian cross Jersey cows on just under 180ha at Duckpool Farm, Wiston, Haverfordwest.

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Cows are mainly fed grazed grass and silage, supplemented with 1,000kg a cow a year of concentrates. From this, Mr Jones is hitting milk yields of 5,500 litres a cow from the spring-calving herd.

The grazing platform

The grazing platform of 95ha is laid out to paddocks with an excellent network of tracks and water troughs and stocked at 4.09 cows a hectare.

Mr Jones, a member of Cleddau Grassland Society, uses Agrinet software to gather data, which can inform decisions about grassland and grazing management.

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All pastures have been reseeded within the past six years with late-heading perennial ryegrasses with white clover, which has resulted in a yield of 16t DM/ha.

Soil indexes are kept at optimum levels and soil testing informs any applications of P, K and lime.

Nitrogen is applied using a variable-rate spreader at intervals throughout the grazing season and slurry is applied to the grazing and silage ground via a dribble bar.

Judges’ comments

The competition was judged by Dr Iwan Owen of Aberystwyth University, technical expert Euryn Jones, regional agriculture manager in Wales for sponsor HSBC, and last year’s winner, Mr Eurig Jenkins of Talsarn Lampeter

The judges said it was a tough competition, but concluded: “Rhys is achieving excellent results from grass and combines enthusiasm, a knowledgeable outlook and attention to details as well as effective reliance on technology to achieve a very high standard of grassland management.”