Today’s farming, as well as producing high yielding quality forage is requiring a new approach to management as it needs to play a major role in reducing the nations carbon footprint.
Livestock farming can attract negative feedback in the press with regards to greenhouse gas emissions. However, grassland has a better carbon footprint compared to most other crops grown. Well managed grassland does not leave bare soil exposed so it locks away carbon.
Herbal leys are being utilised more on farm as they may offer many benefits to livestock and the structure of the soil. Many herbs have deep roots and help to aerate the soil. Herbs also provide minerals which help increase liveweight gain and milk production. They also have the ability to build soil fertility, withstand drought and promote biodiversity. Current trials suggest adding legumes and herbs can benefit total dry matter per acre.
Using chicory which is a highly palatable perennial herb along with the leafy perennial herb plantain will perform in drought conditions due to their deep tap root as well as breaking up the soil structure. Birdsfoot trefoil contains tannins which has been shown to reduce methane production. Sheeps Burnet and Sheeps Parsley help raise mineral and trace elements. The nitrogen fixing ability of legumes reduce the reliance on artificial fertiliser as well as increasing forage protein content for milk production or liveweight gain.
Incorporating these species into Topgrass All Graze brings a range of benefits as the more variety in the sward supports biodiversity along with productivity and carbon capture.
Taking the approach of ‘working from the soil up’ means that there is an understanding of the soil type whilst measuring the nutrient content and structure. Assessing soil carbon where organic matter, organic carbon and total carbon are just a few parameters that can be analysed will all lead to more environmentally friendly farming whilst maintaining productivity.
It is important to remember that if herbal leys are being sown to meet the requirements of the GS4 environmental scheme that a specific Legume and herb mix or Herbal meadow mix is selected to ensure compliance of the relevant scheme.
Legume and herb rich mixes provide productive grazing for livestock along with providing a habitat and a food source for invertebrates and pollinators supporting biodiversity.
Legume and Herb Rich Mix (GS4) 13kg / acre
Late Diploid Perennial Ryegrass
Smooth Stalk Meadow Grass
Herbal meadow (GS4) (13kg / acre)
Diploid Late Perennial Ryegrass
For more information about these multi specie mixtures or for advice on improving your home grown forage please speak to your local ForFarmers Account Manager or send us an online enquiry:
Contact a Forage Specialist
Drought, especially spring drought is happening more frequently and farmers are having to review their forage more closely to ensure that their stocks will take them through the winter period. Reviewing the species of grass mixture before sowing a new ley is now becoming more important to protect losses in the form of reduced yield and quality.
Moving to robotic milking more than a decade ago has helped one Shropshire-based herd increase milk output while, at the same time, reducing cow numbers and labour requirements.
We have a wealth of expertise within our UK team. Let our youngstock, forage and nutritional specialists help you and your business.
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