Grass Breeding for Increased Profit

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Byline: RICHARD HALLORAN

WHILE future developments in grass breeding may well be at the molecular level, Mervyn Humphreys, from the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) in Wales, has confirmed to Farming Life that dairy, beef and sheep farmers are now seeing the benefits of ongoing research in terms of higher forage yields and more efficient livestock production systems.

"Demonstration trials to illustrate the benefits of improved grass varieties have been set up around the UK,'' he said.

"And results are emerging which show that good utilisation of improved grassland can result in considerable savings in production costs.''

The Welsh-based grass specialist went on to make the point that the higher yields being achieved from new hybrid and perennial grasses now meant that two cut, rather than three cut, silage systems were becoming the norm.

As a consequence, silage production costs could be reduced from pounds 80 per tonne of dry matter to pounds 60.

"New grazing mixtures have also proved very suitable for the extended grazing now being practised by some of the best UK livestock farmers,'' he added.

"Sward growth rates in spring were up to 40 per cent greater in areas as diverse as Cumbria in the north and Cornwall in the south and, on average, the farms turned out 33 days earlier. …