Four commercial dairy farms, located in counties Kerry, Waterford, Offaly and Tyrone, are trialling grass varieties for seed company DLF.
The programme is in its third year and participating farms have so far been using grass varieties that are already listed on Teagasc’s Pasture Profit Index (PPI) and are available to all commercial farmers.
Speaking on programme participant David Hunter’s farm in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, on Thursday, DLF Ireland's Paul Flanagan said that on-farm trials are looking at grass yields, the quality of swards and graze outs.
The plan from this year onwards is for programme farms to trial varieties that are yet to be listed on the PPI.
This paddock on David Hunter's farm was reseeded with a monoculture of the tetraploid Solas last year.
Flanagan said that this would allow DLF to get an understanding of which varieties perform best on commercial farms, before the top varieties are put forward for independent testing.
“These guys will be sowing stuff that nobody will have heard of and might not hear of for a few years,” he said.
Single varieties, as opposed to mixtures, are sown on programme farms as part of the research trials and mostly tetraploid varieties have been used.
According to Flanagan, mixtures of diploids and tetraploids are still needed on most commercial farms, although he expects tetraploids to make up a greater proportion of mixtures in the future.
“On average, we are probably at 30% to 40% [of tetraploid varieties] in mixtures across Ireland, but in most of our grazing mixes we are pushing for 60%,” he said.
“We have a certain cohort of farms that would be 100% tetraploid because they are delivering the yield and the quality.
"We are seeing from Teagasc trials and on these four farms that they are grazing better as well,” Flanagan added.
Read more in next week’s Irish Farmers Journal and at www.farmersjournal.ie.
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