Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Grass10 groups increase PastureBase Ireland usage in 2019

There has been a large increase in the usage of PastureBase Ireland in 2019. PastureBase Ireland (PBI), Ireland’s national grassland database and grassland decision support tool, has approximately 450,000 dairy cows being managed through the system.

Grass10 groups increase PastureBase Ireland usage in 2019

Speaking at the Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards for 2019 in Moorepark, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “This is a phenomenal figure given that PBI only started in 2013. We have recorded a 60% increase in farmers completing more than 20 farm grass covers annually. At peak this year, there were 1,600 farm covers being completed weekly in PastureBase Ireland. We expect this figure to continue to increase in the coming year’’.

The Teagasc Grass10 initiative, which is now entering its third year, focussed on establishing new grassland groups in 2019. The Teagasc Grass10 campaign is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc, AIB, FBD Insurance, Grassland Agro and the Irish Farmers Journal. This year, 43 new grassland courses were established across the country, which stimulated a new wave of interest in grassland measurement. John Maher, Teagasc and project manager of Grass10, reported; “43 new grassland courses were launched in 2019, 31 of these were dairy and 12 were drystock. With an average of 15 farmers on each course this brought approximately 650 new famers into grassland management courses’’. John Maher said: “We used the grazing coach format, with a host farmer, and the visiting farmers could track the decision making and progress on the farm at each visit.  Many of the winners of this year’s Grassland Farmer of the Year awards are actually host farms. I want to acknowledge the help and assistance of the host famers across the country, for being the launch pad of this initiative. The support and commitment of Teagasc advisors, to the project has been critical to its success. ’’

A number of new developments in grassland were outlined by Dr Pat Dillon, Head of the Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation programme in Teagasc. He remarked: “In the coming years, Irish farmers will need to increase their skill levels in grassland. We plan to increase PastureBase Ireland’s (PBI) grassland capabilities further. Elodie Ruelle, Teagasc Researcher, has piloted a new grass growth model (MoSt – Moorepark St Gilles model) on 40 farms this year and the feedback we have received has been excellent. We will be extending the pilot in 2020 to 60 farms with the aim of developing a grass prediction function in PBI later in the year. Ireland is leading the way in these grassland initiatives, and it’s important that we see them being used at farm level.”

Another aspect of grassland which was discussed extensively at the awards was the focus now on establishing clover in swards on farms. Dr Michael O’Donovan, Head of the Grassland Science Department in Teagasc, said: ‘Grassland management is a key driver for Ireland to maintain competitiveness and sustainability trademark, with clover, better grassland management and high soil fertility all required in 2020. We will need to fast-track clover establishment on farms.  We plan to set up a number of Clover Pilot farms across the country, where clover will be established and well managed. These farms will demonstrate how clover can be added to the grazing system. Our research results on farms led by Michael Egan, Teagasc Researcher, has shown that we can successfully establish good levels of clover with over-sowing in the early part of the year. The milk production results with grass clover swards are very repeatable at farm level. Clover will have to be brought more central to our grassland systems, and to do this will require more focussed management on soil fertility, which in recent years has been improving.