With multi-species swards coming to prominence in regenerative agriculture systems for their climate smart farming qualities, AHDB commissioned ADAS to assess three GS4 Countryside Stewardship mixtures formulated in line with government specifications.
Dr Jo Matthews, Technical Trials Manager at Germinal Horizon Wiltshire, discusses the results.
Published in late July, the report reveals that the trial was conducted on Glover Farm in Sedgefield, Norfolk. David Cross and father John farm 360 hectares, which is at risk of drought in summer due to the light alkaline soils.
A 40-hectare field was used for the trial, with three GS4 Stewardship mixtures sown at two timings, including late June and early August. There were three mixtures that included Germinal GS4, High Legume & Herb, and Home Mix.
Over an appropriate eight-week period, the trial recorded the average weight gain of lambs from birth. Germinal's GS4 mixture achieved the highest results for liveweight gain (LWG) per day (372g), total LWG (20.8kg), and LWG kg/ha (1.50).
|GS4 mix||LWG g/day||Days||Total LWG (kg)||Area grazed||LWG kg/ha|
|High Legume & Herb||367||56||20.6||13.9||1.48|
Source: AHDB - GS4 farm trial (2022)
Multi-species performing in drought
After describing the daily LWG as greater than that normally achieved in the industry, AHDB explained that the trial took place during the demanding drought conditions in summer 2022.
This highlights that multi-species swards offer a climate smart solution for farmers who need quality forage in challenging conditions. The different root structures of multi-species ensure greater drought tolerance.
Research-led, climate smart forage solutions
With the GS4 Countryside Stewardship scheme laying out only broad requirements, the results show that the quality of the species in the mixture has a significant impact on liveweight gain (LWG) and advantages for using the correct mix can be achieved.
Unique to the Germinal GS4 Countryside Stewarship mixture, Aber High Sugar Grass varieties have higher water-soluble carbohydrates that improve the utilisation of protein from the sward and contribute to LWG. A typical Germinal GS4 Legume and Herb-Rich Sward mix includes:
- Diploid perennial ryegrasses from the Aber HSG range
- Sheep's fescue
- Sheep's Parsley
- Red clover
- Late red clover
- Alsike clover
- Birdsfoot trefoil
The mixture offers produces a highly productive sward that increases liveweight gain, improves soil structure and biodiversity, and supports biodiversity. These qualities make the mixture ideal for regenerative agriculture systems.
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