Welsh farmer turns ‘Grass into Gold’

RICHARD MORRIS.

RICHARD MORRIS.

PEMBROKESHIRE farmer Richard Morris is working hard to ensure 2016 is a bumper year for grass production under a UK-wide research initiative exploring the impact proactive grassland management can have on yields. Ten farms across the UK are involved in Grass into Gold, which forage grass seed producer Barenbrug launched last spring. The aim of the scheme, which is supported by Dow Agrosciences, is to help UK farmers improve the quantity and quality of dry matter per hectare, increase overall profitability and combat farm gate price pressures. In Pembrokeshire, Barenbrug’s head of agriculture James Ingles is working with Mr Morris, of Southern Pitts Farm, a 370-acre spring calving dairy farm in Lawrenny. The business is a relatively new venture for Mr Morris who owns another farm further south. With an intensive grazing system in place, he pays close attention to his grass, measuring growth weekly. As part of Grass into Gold the plan is to sharpen his sward skills further. To improve the economics of his milk production a number of pastures – including fields that can’t be deep cultivated – have been reseeded with a mixture of DUNLUCE, TYRELLA and DRUMBO. Mr Morris said: “Opportunities to take on farms like Southern Pitts don’t come up very often. It’s rare to find land on your doorstep, where you can practice a spring calving dairy grazing system – something I’ve always wanted to do. “When I heard about the tenancy, I leapt at the chance. It was a great opportunity to broaden my experience and increase in scale without intensifying the home farm. “Taking on a new business means there is obviously a lot to do. We’ve already built a new dairy and now we’re a part of Grass into Gold, which will undoubtedly help. The timing of the programme and our discussions with Barenbrug couldn’t have been better.” Mr Ingles said: “At a time of continuing pressure on farm gate prices, farmers needs to capitalise on every opportunity to improve profitability. “Through Grass into Gold our aim is to show how simple, cost effective grassland management techniques can be used to great effect. “It’s early days for our farmers – and there is still lots to do – but initial indications look like they’ll be seeing good results next year.”

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