Project number:                    61110087

Lead contractor:                   Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL)

Start & end date:                   01 May 2018 – 31 December 2021

 

The Problem:

Grassland agriculture underpins much of the ruminant livestock sector in the United Kingdom. The
potential for higher levels of pasture production and of utilisation due to its soil and climatic conditions
give British agriculture a key competitive advantage and unique selling point against many livestock
production regions globally.

Improving the efficiency of grassland management can be a key driver of increased profitability on dairy,
beef and sheep farms across the UK, with each additional 1 tonne pasture dry matter (DM) utilised per
hectare worth £334 and £204 per annum to dairy and beef farms, respectively.

Grass growth information for beef and sheep farms is limited in the UK due to limited history of measuring and recording grass growth.

 

Aims and Objectives:

The project aims:

  • to improve animal performance and farm profitability in pasture based systems
  • to generate a baseline for grassland productivity in Great Britain, linked to high-resolution data
    collected at AFBI’s Precision Grassland Platform and Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke Farm
    Platform National Capability
  • to share the latest research knowledge and techniques with these farms, to foster adoption of
    innovative grazing management systems
  • to create a commercial farm platform on which new technology, novel pasture species/cultivars and pasture management practices could be tested before rollout

 

Approach:

27 instrumented farms will be established for beef and sheep farms in Great Britain (eight plus North Wyke in England, nine in Scotland and nine in Wales). Regular data collection at farm level for pasture growth and quality, animal performance (growth), use of supplementary feed and nutrients. The climatic conditions will be captured by a weather station on each farm.

The farmers will be part of a network where they will exchange ideas and experiences through WhatsApp.

Information about pasture growth and quality will be communicated weekly via a CIEL hosted website, plus specific levy board communications.