Management Guidelines for Grassland in Environmental Schemes

Project number:                    74305

Lead contractors:                 ADAS UK Ltd

Start & end date:                   01 March 2009 – 30 July 2009

 

The Problem:

EBLEX are focussing attention on to grazing and forage management in 2009.  The key messages will be relating to monitoring growth and feed budgeting.  The “New Zealand approach to forage management (high clover use, intensive grazing, residual management) will be used as a framework.  The problem is that the “NZ approach does not take into consideration how to graze conservation grazing to maximise productivity while ensuring requirements of the schemes are met.  With an increasing proportion of producers entering grassland into environmental schemes, management guidelines are required to ensure producers are well informed.  It is likely that the guidelines will be similar to those for low input grassland, i.e. no or low fertiliser applied, but it is not the price of fertiliser that is the driver and introducing clover may not be part of the solution.

 

Project Aims:

  1. To review published and grey literature relating to grazing management of conservation grazing.
  2. To produce a summary of the practical guidelines that beef and sheep producers can rapidly instigate on their farms
  3. To generate a report outlining potential methods to improve the feeding quality of conservation pasture while adhering to requirements.

 

Approach:

ADAS will look at the management of different classes of unimproved and semi-improved permanent pasture, e.g. acid, limestone, neutral and marshy grassland.  They will look at the seasonal productivity, expected forage quality and typical sward composition.  Expected production levels of cattle and sheep will be identified for each class of grassland.  Potential methods of enhancing performance through supplementation or alternative management practices whilst meeting the requirements of the agri-environmental scheme will be explored.

 

Results:

The review generated the general guidelines for grassland in environmental schemes and specific guidelines for acid, neutral, calcareous and marshy grassland management.

Grazing management, supplementation and health issues were considered for these different grassland types with management suggestions within the criteria of the environmental schemes.

 

Planned activity:

This will feed into knowledge transfer activity on grassland management.