Pilot farms wanted for new grassland management project

Beef, sheep and dairy farms from across Great Britain are wanted for participation in a new grassland management project.

The project, called GrassCheckGB, aims to improve grassland productivity and pasture use on farms through a new grassland performance monitoring network.

It will benchmark current and potential performance, support novel grassland research and encourage uptake of innovative grassland management practices such as pasture (grazing) management and nutrient budgeting.

See also: More on grassland management in the Know How Centre 

GrassCheckGB is being run by the levy bodies in England, Scotland and Wales in partnership with the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and researchers at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Rothamsted Research.

According to Gwawr Parry, industry development officer at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) – the programme has been successfully implemented in Northern Ireland since 1999 and most recently used to offer evidence to the NI government on the magnitude of the impact of the drought and inform discussions on how much support the industry needs.

“Grassland is an imperative feed resource in Wales, and Welsh sheep and beef farms are renowned for their grass-fed produce,” said Gwawr Parry.

“HCC is focused on utilising and improving grassland management to assist businesses in becoming more efficient. We are encouraging Welsh producers to get involved in this project in the interest of enhancing and protecting grass growth in Wales.”

Participant requirements

Pilot farms will be required to:

  • Make weekly assessments of pasture mass across the grazing areas of their farm
  • Collect grass samples fortnightly for quality analysis
  • Make regular assessments of animal performance (LW for sheep and beef farms; milk production data for dairy farms)
  • Link automated weather stations to farm broadband to facilitate automated data transfer
  • Provide access to animal performance data held by third parties (for example, milk production records held by the company a dairy farm supplies milk to)
  • Engage with GrassCheckGB discussion groups
  • Take part for three to five years in the GrassCheckGB project

CIEL is supporting the purchase of equipment on farms through funds from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency.

How to apply to be a pilot farmer

Application forms and information packs can be downloaded from the CIEL website.