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Published
27 .May.2020

DLF Ribwort plantain trial in Ireland

Interest in ribwort plantain as a forage species for ruminant livestock production has been growing in recent years.

Ribwort plantain trial at DLF Ireland

Interest in ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) as a forage species for ruminant livestock production has been growing in recent years. This may seem strange to some but there are several plantain varieties available, such as Agritonic, that have been bred and developed over the last 20 years for use in livestock systems. In New Zealand for example, plantain is considered a valuable forage species in simple mixtures with grasses or legumes and more complex multi-species mixtures. The agronomic varieties of plantain now available to farmers produce highly palatable, mineral-rich forage that has strong dry matter production, especially in dry summer conditions. Plantain sown on its own and in mixed swards has performed very well in studies from around the world demonstrating the potential to enhance forage production and animal performance compared to grass-only swards. In addition to high yields and quality, plantain has been shown to improve nitrogen-use efficiency by reducing nitrate leaching from urine patches which can lead to water quality degradation and N2O losses to the atmosphere.

This summer DLF Seeds Ireland is collaborating with our grass partner farmers to investigate different strategies of establishing plantain on Irish farms. The conventional method of destroying the old sward followed by ploughing and tilling may not be appropriate in the establishment of swards containing plantain as there are no plantain-safe herbicides available to control weed species that may emerge after sowing. For this reason, we will first sow and establish a perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) mixture, using the conventional method outlined above before over-sowing plantain into the sward. Three different sowing rates will be used to determine the optimum sowing rate for plantain establishment under these conditions.

To keep up to date with this trial and more, make sure to follow us on Twitter @DLF_IRL and Facebook “DLFIreland or contact Dr. Thomas Moloney on tmoloney@dlfseeds.ie