Organic on-farm Multi Species Sward Trial
Teagasc have teamed up with seed company, DLF and organic dairy farmers, Pat & Mark Mulrooney from Kilsheelan, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary to investigate the on farm performance of Multi Species Swards, especially in periods of drought. The video below gives details of the trial. Full details are in the text below
Pat and Mark Mulrooney are farming 176 acres at the foot of Slievenamon in South Tipperary. Pat converted the farm to organic in 1987 and in 2021, Pat’s son, Mark joined is father in the farming business. They operate a spring calving system and milked 90 cows in 2022. The soil type on the farm is a silty loam and is extremely free draining making the farm very susceptible to drought. To avoid running into a feed shortage over the summer months, the Mulrooneys invited Teagasc and DLF to investigate which seed mixtures would be bested suited to their organic farm in a drought situation.
Two 11 acre fields were identified at the beginning of 2022 as being suitable for reseeding. It was decided to put 4 different seed mixtures into each field (2.5acres each) and to also leave 1acre of the field un-polughed and un-reseeded as a reference plot. With the assistance of Thomas Moloney of DLF, seed mixtures were designed for each 2.5 acre paddock. Table 2 outlines the mixtures that were sown in each plot.
Pat Mulrooney also felt that Cocksfoot performed well on his farm in dry conditions, so in one field Cocksfoot formed part of the seed mixture and in the second field, Festulolium was used. We ls wanted to investigate the benefits of including clovers and herbs into each mixture, so increasing levels of diversity of seed families were included.
As the fields were only reseeded in April, we have only 6 months data available to date. It will not be until the end of 2023 before we can give a full years result on the performance of the various plots. What can be seen from the performance in 2022 was that the mixtures that contained the Chicory and Plantain, performed the best across both plots. In 2023, there will be a full year’s growth data to fully evaluate the performance of each mixture.
Table 1: Plot performance (Kgs Dry Matter) for 2022
|Species included||Kgs DM grown pre-reseed||Kgs DM grown post-reseed||Total Kgs Dm grown in 2022|
|PRG, Tm, Cf + WC||1700||6756||8456|
|PRG, Tm, Cf, WC, RC||1700||6295||7995|
|PRG, Tm, Cf, WC, RC, Ch, Pl||1700||8484||10184|
|Tm, Cf, WC, RC, Ch, Pl + Herbs||1700||6789||8498|
|PRG, Tm, Ft + WC||1950||2993||4943|
|PRG, Tm, Ft, WC, RC||1950||3368||5318|
|PRG, Tm, Ft, WC, RC, Ch, Pl||1950||5012||6962|
|PRG, Tm, Ft, WC, RC, Ch, Pl + Herbs||1950||4576||6526|
Seed Mixtures used
Grass/ White Clover
Grass/ White Clover / Red Clover
Grass / Legume / Herb
Grass / Legume / Herb