Webinar: Managing multi-species in your grassland rotation

Join us for a two-part webinar series on the benefits of multi-species within your grassland management.

Part one

In this first session, Germinal experts Helen Mathieu and William Fleming discuss the various species and their benefits, establishment best practices, the key research findings and more.

Part two

In this session, we welcome three farmers: Sam Chesney from Co. Down in Northern Ireland, Simon Bainbridge from Northumberland and John Goodwin who farms near Presteigne. All have used multi-species successfully in their systems and go into detail on their experiences.

Webinar Q & A

Yarrow grows easily on our clay soils. What is the agricultural importance of yarrow?

Yarrow has a medicinal purpose for livestock, soil benefits from the rooting depth and offers plant diversity. However, the benefits will depend on how much yarrow grows in the mixture.

Which Burnet are you talking about? You say it doesn't like waterlogged conditions, but our flood meadows have lots of Great Burnet, is that different?

We use Sheep’s Burnet Sanguisorba minor sometimes called salad burnet or garden burnet. Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) can thrive in flood meadows.

How do you quantify the better animal performance with the poorer energy levels of non-perennial ryegrass species?

Some herbs and legumes are capable of excellent animal performance, they can complement the higher energy Aber perennial ryegrass with higher protein or mineral additions to the diet. Again, it is down to the quantity in the sward.

Should we be taking a different management approach with these types of leys, less intensive more holistic? Extended grazing rounds, with higher residuals. Include soil health as part of the change away from intensively managed swards?

It is certainly a different approach, although multi-species swards are not always less intensive in terms of stocking rates and forage yield. The grazing management does have to be adjusted depending on your business goals – although rotational grazing works very well, other grazing methods are also effective. The multi-species sward is about diversity, it can improve soil health and build resilience into forage production, (summer droughts etc) whilst maintaining high levels of animal output.

Would it be possible to get them into a sward without spraying and minimal till?

Very difficult – a fine tilth, good seed to soil contact and no competition are vital to the establishment. In truth over the years, we have not had great success trying to add herbs to existing swards. A complete reseed with herbs and clovers mixed in seems to be the best way. 

Do you have any experience of a plantain and red clover mix in a sheep system?

Haven't seen any liveweight gain data on plantain and red clover, although we have a very popular lamb finisher mix which contains red clover, chicory and plantain - that works well as a short term (3 yr.) intensive lamb finishing crop.                                          

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