Linking Farmers with Research: DairyCo-BGS Demo Farm Event Crathorne

Linking Farmers with Research: DairyCo-BGS Demo Farm Event Crathorne

Monday, June 30, 2014

Spring 2014 has been exceptional for producing milk from grazed grass, but there is still much more that can be done to improve grass growth and utilisation.  This was the key message delivered to 53 farmers at the DairyCo-BGS demonstration farm, at Crathorne Estates on 26th June.  The 400 autumn calving dairy unit operates on a 123 ha grazing platform which is on heavy clay soils.


Joe Dugdale opened the meeting by telling the attendees that April and May 2014 had seen the herd use around 120 tonnes less parlour concentrate, compared to the same months in 2013, whist producing 17,000 litres more milk than the previous year.


The objective of the dairy unit is to maximise milk from grazed grass - During the event independent consultant Charlie Morgan took visitors through the negative impacts of soil compaction on grass growth and utilisation, going on to discuss using spiking, sward lifting, mole ploughing and ploughing to remediate the issues.  The message was to dig inspection pits to understand the problems on your own farm and use the right techniques and machinery to match on farm conditions.


Debbie McConnell, DairyCo Research Manager, took the meeting through the results gained so far from experiments underway at SRUCs Crichton Royal Farm; running as part of DairyCo’s Grass, Forage and Soil Research Partnership.  These show reduction in first cut yields of between 10 and 20% from soil compaction caused by trampling and wheeling and are beginning to show the benefits of remediations like sward lifting.


Andrew Manfield, a local arable farmer, presented his experience of the benefits of controlled traffic farming techniques that are designed to minimise soil compaction from machinery operations.  The visitors entered into a lively discussion of how these might be applied to grassland situations and concluded that this should be an area that researches should focus on in the near future.


Local DairyCo Extension Officer, Tony Hoile summed up by saying “This was a very useful session and showed the power of knowledge exchange where farmers can see the impacts of research and feedback their needs directly to the researchers.  That’s what these BGS/DairyCo demonstration farms are all about.”



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