Livestock News

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Yara Grass Prix 2015: NI leads the field in grass growing competition

Yaras Grass Prix 2015 is off to a flyingstart with growers in Northern Ireland taking advantage of good weather to take anearly lead, says the company.

David Murphy from CountyArmagh has forged ahead after harvesting dry 9.2 tonnes dm /ha with an energycontent of 100,453 MJ/ha worth 1,036/ha.

The competition, now in its second year, and with more entrants thanbefore, sees leading beef and dairy farmers from the UK and Ireland competingto achieve the highest energy yield from grass and has attracted a mixture ofnew faces and some returning competitors from last season.

The Yara Grass Prix winner will be the entrant with the highestMetabolisable Energy yield (ME per ha) averaged over the first two silage cuts.

Grass is a vital part of any livestock enterprise andremains the most costeffective feed for the dairy, beef andsheep sector either as grazing or conserved forage, explains Jez Wardman,Grass Prix organiser and agronomist from Yara. It requires careful attentionto optimise the output and maximise returns, and too often this is overlooked.Effective nutrition has a vital role in growing grass successfully, in bothyield and quality.

“Grass is everything,”confirms David Murphy who runs his dairy enterprise at Tynan County Armaghtogether with his father Ian, “and ME is most important. To make up the differencefor poor quality grass could mean feeding an extra 3kg meal per cow per day,which over the whole herd would add up to an extra 6,300 per month off thebottom line.”

Mr Murphys herd of 300 cows are housed all year round and fed using azero grazing system buffer fed with high quality silage.

2014s competition was hard fought, with allentrants improving their grass growing performance, averaging ME yields of 138,520 MJ/ha over twocuts, significantly beating the UK and Ireland average of 88,000 MJ/ha.  Eventual winner, Scottishdairy farmer Willie Watson, took the chequered flag with a Metabolised Energy(ME) yield of 183,927 MJ/ha, and feed value of 17.7DMt/ha and will bedefending his title this year.

2014 analysis taught us that there is no one size fits allrecommendation; so each farm, indeed each field, is different and should bemanaged accordingly, explains Mr Wardman. For Mr Watson, a dairy farmer withcows that yield 11,000 litres a year, having grass silage valued at the equivalentof 2,943 /ha [compared to Brewers Grains July 2014] as the foundation of theration has made a significant difference.  

Who will be the winner this year?

The entrants into Yara Grass Prix competition for 2015 are:

     Elgan Evans  Dairy farmer from Llanrwst,North Wales

     Robert Tilly  Dairy farmer from Penzance,Cornwall*

     Tom and Simon Browne  Dairy farmers fromCounty Cork, Republic of Ireland*

     James Coumbe  Dairy farm manager at DuchyCollege, Cornwall

     Drew Wilson – Beef farmer from Forfar, Angus,Scotland

     Willie Watson  Dairy farmer from Ayrshire,south west Scotland*

     Iain Green  Beef farmer from Fochabers, northeast Scotland*

     David and Ian Murphy – Dairy farmers fromCounty Armagh, Northern Ireland

     Tom Rawson  Dairy farmer from Dewsbury, WestYorkshire*

     Alan Wallace  Dairy farmer from CountyAntrim, Northern Ireland

     Eddie Jordan  Dairy farm manager with UCDCounty Kildare, Republic of Ireland

     Danny and Patrick Cremin  Dairy farmers fromCounty Limerick, Republic of Ireland

     Robert Bryson – Dairy farmer from County Down,Northern Ireland

Yarasregional sales team will be working closely with the farms, offering thetools, resources and advice to help the entrants succeed, continues Mr Wardman,including free analysis of soil, slurry and tissues; advice on all inputs, applicationrates and timings; help measuring the yield at harvest and free analysis ofsamples for grass quality.

Theanalysis will allow us to have a better understanding of how all entrantsreached their final yield and build on the important lessons learnt in 2014 onmaximising the yield from grass. Mr Wardman explains. Currently grass yieldsin the UK and ROI deliver 6-10t/Ha of dry matter which is, on average, lessthan half of its biological potential. One of the main reasons for low grassyields is the poor or incorrect use of nitrogen (N) fertiliser, in terms ofrate and times of application. Grass really deserves the same level ofattention to detail more usually given to arable crops.

Final results of the Yara Grass Prix competitionshould be available in August following anticipated second cuts in June and July.For further information and to learn more about Yaras latest innovations ingrassland management – log on to

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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