Expanded GrassCheck Initiative Seeks More Applications From Farms

AgriSearch are seeking applications from more dairy farmers in Fermanagh for an expanded Grasscheck in 2023.

They are investing over £400,000 in its flagship GrassCheck programme over the next three years.

Announcing the new investment AgriSearch’s General Manager Jason Rankin said: “Over the last 23 years the GrassCheck programme has been fundamental in assisting ruminant livestock farmers maximise returns from grazed grass. This initiative led by AgriSearch, AFBI and CAFRE, in partnership with DAERA, has monitored year on year variations in grass growth providing valuable information to both farmers and policy makers.

“With fertiliser prices more than tripling, and concentrate prices doubling for many farmers, the benefits of efficiently utilising high quality grass has never been so important in operating a sustainable and profitable farming system.” 

The GrassCheck programme will continue to provide fundamentally important information to farmers

Grazed grass and grass silage remain the dominant and cheapest forage source in Northern Ireland, occupying an estimated 93 per cent of the total farmed area. However, making efficient use of grassland takes careful management and can be challenging in some instances. 

John added: “By incorporating farm data from across the province these varying conditions can be better monitored and understood. Grassland also has an important role in sequestering carbon. 

“However, we recognise that these are changing times for Agriculture and that GrassCheck needs to adapt to these challenges. The next phase of GrassCheck will seek to expand grass growth monitoring to include swards containing significant levels of clover and using low levels of manufactured N fertiliser. We are also planning to conduct baseline assessment on soil carbon across the GrassCheck network.”

AgriSearch have opened applications for new farmers to become part of the GrassCheck network. Applications are being sought from dairy farms in Fermanagh and all farm types in Armagh, North and East Antrim, South Londonderry and North Tyrone. Applications are also being sought from farms across Northern Ireland who have significant levels of clover (approx. 20 per cent) present in their grassland swards and who spread low (or no) levels of manufactured N fertiliser.

GrassCheck farmers will be expected to measure their grazing platform on a weekly basis throughout the grazing season using a platemeter. Grass measurements will be entered into an online management platform (AgriNet) along with stock numbers, milk production figures, and details of meal and silage fed to cattle. 

Fertiliser applications for all measured grassland will also be recorded regularly through the AgriNet system. On a fortnightly basis each farm will submit grass samples to AFBI for nutritional analysis. A number of farms will also be equipped with a weather station that will automatically relay data to a control unit connected to Wi-Fi.

Benefits for participants include having access to accurate grassland measurement information which they can use to plan grazing rotations and maximise grassland utilisation in the rotation. 

For those interested in taking part in the project the online application form and further details are available via the AgriSearch website or social media channels. AgriSearch will be attending the Winter Fair for those who have any queries and would like to speak to a member of the team in person.

Applications close on Monday, December 19.

(Source – Impartial Reporter – Farming – Brian Donaldson – 28/11/2022)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rural Enterprise Skillnet
Rural Enterprise Skillnet

The Rural Enterprise Skillnet is funded by member companies and the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets Ltd. funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

Read More