DLF grass breeder held a focus event on DLF Grass Partner Michael and Bernie O Sullivan’s Farm in Castleisland, Kerry with Grasstec and Teagasc today. Key topics covered at the event were; soil nutrition, with an emphasis on P K & Lime, grassland management, residuals, regrowth and covers and finally grass varieties. Michael is one of four farmers within the DLF Grass Partner Program aimed at improving grassland utilisation with specific concentration on ryegrass varietal performance. Michael has been using DLF varieties since 2016 and after joining the DLF Grass Partner Program in 2018 has begun sowing individual varieties of perennial ryegrass and feeding the performance data back into the partner program.
Earlier this year DLF announced the introduction of the Grasstec Group to the Partner program as the official independent ‘analysis partner’. Grasstec’s grass measuring team have been visiting DLF’s partner farms on a regular basis to measure and record grassland, with a particular emphasis on capturing data around the progression of DLF’s latest varieties. Noel Gowan spoke on the Day “there are four rules of grassland management, that pertaining to residuals, rotation length, protecting regrowth and pregrazing covers.”
Speaking at the event DLF General Manager Paul Flanagan said “What is happening on Michaels farm & the other three partner farms is essentially an extension to our research program. We analyse roughly 1,500 varieties every year in Waterford by mechanically cutting the plots with a Haldrup Harvester which indicates the key performers. What we are answering here on the partner farms is how those key performers do in front of cows as opposed to mechanically cutting. This year Michael is grazing a new DLF variety called Nashota which is not yet on the Irish recommended list or PPI. On paper from our Waterford trials and early department results, Nashota has the potential to be a market leader in Ireland. Here in Kerry, Michael and 110 black and white ladies will determine its grazing potential!
What we have seen so far from the work carried out on the partner farms very much mirrors the results from grazing studies published by Moorpark earlier this year where DLF varieties like Nifty, Aspect, Solas and Xenon have performed very well under actual grazing trials. Speaking at the event graze out and utilazation was essentially a theme. In his introduction Michael O Sullivan stated “We joined the Grass Partner program with DLF in 2018 because we wanted to get more from our farm and had confidence DLF could help us bring our goals to fruition”.
DLF have invested like no other in research since getting involved in the Irish market in 2015, having screened over 6,000 varieties to date for application in Ireland. “Nashota comes from our first round of trials in Ireland meaning we may have a winning variety with our first attempt from Irish trials. More interesting, is since then we have been selecting the parent lines in Ireland and crossing specifically for the Irish market. This Autumn we will sow varieties bred specifically for Ireland in Waterford trials. If our first attempt with Nashota has a chance of adding value to farmers like Michael here today, our Irish breeding efforts will ensure we continue to add value to Irish farmers for years to come” added DLF Paul Flanagan.
Launched in 2017 the “More Milk with DLF” Grass Partner programme is a long-term project that will aid the grassland utilisation for the four farmers involved. Here in Kerry Denis Brasil of Teagasc, Adam Heffernan of KFA and Noel Gowan have all played their part in working to make this happen for Farmers across the island of Ireland can follow the participating farmers progress on twitter @DLF_IRL, on Facebook @DLFIreland or sign-up to DLF’s newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Does the Ideal Grass Grazing Variety Look Like?
No. 1. Graze Out - – A variety that delivers 15 tonnes is not much use on a farm if the cow won’t eat it.
No. 2. Yield - If the variety grazes out you want it to produce as much as possible.
No. 3. Quality – Now you have your utilisable yield determined, that sward should be of the highest quality possible.
Teagasc Grazing Trials Explained:
Tegasc Moorepark recently published 2-year results from their grazing trials in Ireland. The aim of these grazing trials is to establish how well individual grass varieties are grazed by animals. To translate this into layman’s terms – the trial measures which varieties animals like to eat the most. As we know, the more palatable the grass the more the cow will eat; resulting in more milk or meat being produced from grass. This is an objective that every farmer aspires to.
Taking a look at the results from the recent Teagasc trials – there are two key measurements that are used to score the best varieties.
The top left quadrant of this graph is the sweetspot - where we want all varieties in our grass mixtures to be.
The Results Speak for Themselves:
Nifty – DLF Variety - Only Diploid in the top left “sweetspot” and has mainline seed availability.
Xenon – DLF Variety – The ideal grazing variety in our view but has little seed for the market.
Aspect – DLF Variety – Best variety with mainline availability of seed
Solas – DLF Variety – Very comparable to Abergain
Twymax – DLF Variety – Old DLF genetics, demonstrates DLF breeders have been getting it right long-term.