Is the conventional ryegrass and clover mix really the best suited pasture for the Welsh uplands?

WITH feed prices increasing and lamb profits being squeezed year on year, there’s an increasing interest from farmers wanting to best utilise what they can grow as forage. Is the conventional ryegrass and clover mix really the best suited pasture for the Welsh uplands? Species‐rich grasslands were once common across the UK and supported pastoral agriculture, healthy functioning soil, and diverse flora and fauna.

Three upland farms near Blackmill, Bridgend are taking part in a three year EIP Wales project looking to compare a standard white clover/ryegrass ley against a mixed ley containing ryegrass, clover, timothy, meadow fescue, chicory and plantain. The project will investigate the productivity and economic performance of both leys when grown on upland sites.

Each farm has now finished reseeding a 4‐5 ha
field, half with the multi species ley and the other
half with the conventional ryegrass/white clover
ley. The next step will be to assess how well both leys establish and out compete weeds.

Over the next two growing seasons the production aspects of both leys, in terms of DM yield, forage quality, ley persistence and daily live weight gains of lambs post weaning, will be monitored and assessed.

If increased species diversity can also reduce lamb finishing times a true multi‐species grassland could offer the potential to manage marginal land in Wales for both production and general biodiversity.

EIP Wales is encouraging more farmers to come forward with their ideas. There’s up to £40,000 available for innovative projects. Please visit the Farming Connect Website or email us at eipwales@menterabusnes.co.uk for more information.EIP Wales, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities‐ Rural Development Programme 2014‐2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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