Over the last 24 years the GrassCheck programme has been fundamental in assisting ruminant livestock farmers maximise returns from grazed grass. his initiative led by AgriSearch, AFBI and CAFRE and supported by DAERA and CIEL, has monitored year on year variations in grass growth providing valuable information to both farmers and policy makers during this time.

The first GrassCheck Bulletin of 2023 has been published this week.

As part of AgriSearch’s significant £400k investment in its GrassCheck programme over the next three years, 15 new farmers have been added to the existing 38 participants. This has not only improved the GrassCheck network coverage across the province but has also allowed the programme to incorporate a number of farms with high clover / low nitrogen swards.

Improved network coverage will allow conditions across the province to be monitored. With weather extremes observed in recent years, the importance of understanding the variations in growing conditions has never been more important for optimal grassland management.

Given recent increases in fertiliser and concentrate costs, maximising grassland utilisation will be key and the use of high clover grass swards may be a valuable tool to mitigate rising costs. Grassland also has an important role in sequestering carbon.

Work conducted over the past 50 years at AFBI Hillsborough has shown that well managed grassland can sequester over 800kg of Carbon per hectare per year.

Trends in weather and the impact on grassland production and quality was certainly the topic on everyone’s mind at the recent meeting of the GrassCheck farmers, hosted at AFBI Hillsborough. A 2022 season summary was presented with the GrassCheck plots at Hillsborough and Greenmount having produced their joint lowest yield (9.2t tDM/ha) since GrassCheck was established in 1999. The long-term average is 11.5t DM/ha).


Join our growing digital family. Read the biggest and best stories in Fermanagh. Click here to subscribe.