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Multi-species Mixes Increase Yield with Less Fertiliser, and Increase Drought Resilience

Multi-species Mixes Increase Yield with Less Fertiliser, and Increase Drought Resilience

At Farming for a Better Future Open Day John Finn and Guylain Grange, Researchers at Teagasc, Johnstown Castle and Caroline Brophy, Trinity College Dublin summarised the ongoing research at Teagasc Johnstown Castle into multi-species grassland mixtures. Find out the promising results here

In the video below John Finn, Research Officer, Teagasc Johnstown Castle tells us about the ongoing research into multi-species grassland swards at Teagasc Johnstown Castle. 


Multiple research groups have been testing multi-species grassland mixtures as a strategy for high yields, drought resistance and forage quality. On experimental plots that are harvested, multi-species mixtures consistently deliver higher yields from lower nitrogen application.

Faced with pressures to reduce greenhouse gases and be more resilient to climate change, multi-species grassland mixtures offer an opportunity to increase sustainable production from intensively managed grasslands.

Over the last 20 years, Johnstown Castle research has investigated the effects of mixing species and functional groups of grasses, legumes and herbs with the aim of improving grassland productivity, forage quality and environmental sustainability.

Multi-species mixtures at 150 kg ha-1 yr-1 of nitrogen fertiliser under drought were highest yielding – even compared to perennial ryegrass with twice the level of nitrogen fertiliser (300 kg ha-1 yr-1).

Multi-species mixtures had highest yield stability, lower emissions intensity of nitrous oxide (a potent greenhouse gas). They also had very low weed biomass – this is important, given that post-emergence herbicide cannot be applied to mixtures of grasses, legumes and herbs. If there is good establishment and no pre-existing weed problem (deal with this before sowing), then weeds are not a problem.

New research is focusing on livestock performance (dairy, dairy calf to beef, and beef systems), grassland persistence, fertiliser replacement value. Preliminary results from Teagasc and other research show similar (or better) livestock performance on lower N mixtures compared to higher N grass-only swards.

Although the agronomic performance of mixtures is important, they are likely to have higher performance across other environmental indicators. Teagasc research is also investigating the effects of mixtures on water quality, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and soil fertility within crop rotations.

View below, the Board from the Stand at the Farming for a Better Future - Technologies for Today & Tomorrow Open Day in Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford on 30 August


Placeholder image Download the Johnstown Castle Open Day Booklet at Farming for a Better Future - Technologies for Today & Tomorrow (PDF)

Other resources & online information

Twitter: @johnfinn310 

Teagasc Website: www.teagasc.ie/environment/biodiversity--countryside/research /

Farmland Ecology blog: https://farmecol.blogspot.com/ 

Email: john.finn@teagasc.ie 

New Multi4More project from July 2022, funded by DAFM and DAERA

See Johnstown Castle Open Day - Technologies for farms of the future 

Check out the hashtag #GrassSoilsTechnology