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Research

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Research Call

DAFM Reference

Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2011 11 S 147 UCD (Teagasc, AFBI) € 633,047

Project Title:

Smart Grassland Systems - Innovative Management Systems to Maximise Resource Use Efficiency in Grasslands

Project Coordinator:

Dr Helen Sheridan

Project Abstract

The greatest challenge facing Irish farmers is maximisation of production outputs in a manner which is environmentally and economically viable and sustainable. Singular reliance on high input grass monocultures is becoming less economically viable and socially acceptable. The ability to produce high yields of good quality forage, at minimal cost to farmers and with minimal impact on natural resources, is fundamental to the sustainability of future growth in Irish grass-based farming systems. Research indicates that the production potential of multi-species grasslands, which may require comparatively lower levels of nutrient inputs, has been greatly underestimated. This project will investigate the production potential of a multi-species sward mixtures consisting of three plant functional groups (grasses, legumes and forage herbs) when compared with perennial ryegrass monocultures and perennial ryegrass – white clover swards. Experimental plots will be established at two sites and sward types compared in terms of dry matter yields, nutritive quality, in vitro digestibility and methane production, quality of silage and biodiversity support value, under i) a range of nutrient input levels; ii) different forms of nutrient inputs i.e. inorganic fertiliser versus slurry and iii) grazing regime i.e. actual grazing versus simulated grazing. A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis will be undertaken to identify the optimum combination of sward mixture and management treatment which maximises resource use efficiency and thus output, while minimising costs incurred by farmers, coupled with protection of public goods such as biodiversity

Final Report:

Not available yet.