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National Dairy Conference Questions Answered: potential of multi-species swards


On the day at the Virtual Dairy Conference Teagasc Specialists were not in a position to answer all questions asked due to the sheer volume of questions. All this week they attempt to answer some of those questions on the Dairy Daily. Today's question is about the potential of multi-species swards

There is renewed interested in the role that multi-species swards might have in dairy pastures in the coming years. Teagasc researcher Brian McCarthy presented results from research on the incorporation of white clover in dairy pastures at Clonakilty Agricultural College: The effect of sward type & nitrogen fertiliser application rate on milk & herbage production  . A question about the potential of multi-species swards was asked at the National Dairy Conference.

The emphasis on clover is very understandable. What's the situation with deep rooted plant species as well as clover which might aid production in drier years, decrease soil compaction, water runoff and pollution, and increase biodiversity without reducing milk yield and profitability?

Climate change is predicted to result in more severe weather events, including drought, which will affect forage production in agricultural grasslands. John Finn and Swiss colleagues evaluated the effects of an experimentally imposed drought on yields of monocultures and mixtures of intensively managed grassland communities comprising four species (perennial ryegrass, white and red clover and chicory – the latter two species are deep rooted and potentially more drought resistant). Artificially induced droughts at sites in both Johnstown Castle and Zürich (Switzerland) however showed little difference between the monocultures and mixed swards in terms of drought resistance but annual yield differences was 31-34% greater for the four-species mixtures.

See more on the Virtual Dairy Conference 2021 here.

The complete Dairy Conference Proceedings can be viewed here and the individual articles were published on Teagasc Daily throughout last week. See Teagasc Daily - Dairy for more.