The eighth and final GrassCheck podcast of the 2020 grazing season focuses on how farmers can prepare their grazing platform for spring turnout.   Jason Rankin from AgriSearch was joined by Dr Kat Huson (AFBI), Conail Keown (CAFRE) and GrassCheck dairy farmer Ryan Carr, who farms near Downpatrick.

GrassCheck dairy farmer Ryan Carr contributed to the latest podcast

Kat Huson led this podcast by giving an update on the grass growths of plots and GrassCheck farms during this late stage in the season, stating how growth is currently performing in comparison to the seasonal norm. Providing an insight to grass growth and quality, Kat stated how some farms in Northern Ireland are making the most of remaining growth where the ground holds, many others are preparing for the close of the season. She concluded that while current growth is slightly above average, this has not been enough to compensate for the deficit in growth early on in the season as a result of a very dry spring. Overall growth on the grasscheck plots in 2020 is 1.4tDM/ha behind the 10 year average.

Reporting on the weather extremes experienced throughout the year, Ryan Carr offered an insight into how grazing on his farm has fared during the 2020 season. Having experienced difficulties during the grazing season as a result of dry weather two years ago, Ryan explained how he was prepared for the challenges faced by the dry start to the grazing season, demonstrating some valuable mitigation strategies.

Conail Keown offered an insight into the key differences between farms who coped well with the extreme weather conditions during the 2020 year and those who ultimately struggled. He encouraged farmers to be flexible and perhaps be prepared to offer supplementation to animals to deal with the shortfall of grass supply and ensure the best performance on farm.  He recommended having early cuts of good quality silage, ensuring this is available for animals in the event of extreme weather conditions.

As we approach the close of the grazing season, Conail offered a sound piece of advice to farmers, encouraging them to make early preparations for the next grazing season, stating “the decisions that you make this month will have a serious impact on what you have got for spring grazing”.

The GrassCheck podcast can be accessed via the AgriSearch website https://www.agrisearch.org/podcasts or podcast directories such as Apple, Google, Spotify and Amazon Music.