Swards for the Future Conference gets Underway in Teagasc Moorepark
The Swards for the Future conference got underway this morning, Thursday, 8 September at the Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. The conference was opened by Teagasc Director of Research, Professor Pat Dillon and will be held over two days. The conference is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Delegates will hear from a number of international and national speakers. As well as a large Irish audience, there are also delegates from France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in attendance. The objective of this conference and workshop is to provide an overview of the latest research findings and current best practice in grass-white clover and multi-species swards. The conference will provide the first opportunity to view cutting-edge research on mixed species swards, including new species under trial. The development of a ranking index for clover will also be introduced. Advisors, farmers and researchers will all share their experiences, providing excellent opportunities for discussion and learning.
Opening the conference Professor Dillon remarked; “there is now considerable pressure on livestock systems to reduce both their carbon footprint and Nitrogen input. There are some key findings being presented at this conference, most notably how we must optimise the level of clover in our grazing swards; perennial ryegrass/grass clover is still our most competitive feed; the role of red clover in our silage systems; and the emphasis we need to place on making sure the research outputs are taken up at farm level.”
Dr Grainne Hurley, co-coordinator of the Teagasc/Dairygold Joint Programme, who is speaking on Friday said that ‘Clover sales have increased substantially in 2022. We saw a lot more over-sowing taking place in April this year. There is genuine buy-in from farmers and through discussion groups to adapt to the environmental challenges which lie ahead of the industry’. Dr Hurley is a lead contributor to the knowledge transfer session at the conference on Friday morning.
Michael Doran, Chairman of the Clover 150 farmer group said; “farmers are responding to the environmental challenges. This is clearly evidenced by the increase in clover content on the Clover 150 farms and the reduction in artificial nitrogen fertiliser applied so far in 2022. While this year has been a really difficult grass growing year, farmers are listening to the advice and more importantly putting it in practice on their farms”. The Clover 150 programme has 40 farms from West Cork to Donegal incorporating both red and white clover on their farms.
There are a number of new and innovative grassland research projects established in the past year which delegates will visit during the conference. These include grazing white clover trials investigating new traits such as nitrogen fixation ability, red clover silage systems, persistence and pasture quality of tanniferous legumes (legumes with high tannins) and establishment of new grazing studies on grass/clover and plantain swards. Dr Tomas Tubritt, Teagasc, is leading this new research in the area of identifying the additive traits in species which can complement perennial ryegrass/grass clover swards.