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Read all the latest news from the agronomy services industry.

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Grass plots show the way

Grass plots show the way

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017
Category: Cereal News

Proving a grass variety works in a range of situations and soil types is key to understanding how and when to include it in a mixture.

To this end Pearce Seeds, who run their own grass mixing plant, have been involved with palatability trials and observation plots on commercial farm with the aim of highlighting varieties that will benefit farmers in the South West. Of particular interest in these plots have been the performance of Festuloliums.

Fesuloliums offer yield, quality and stress tolerance with a good disease resistance profile but as with any grass variety they need to be selected according to their end use. The key to selecting the most appropriate Festulolium is to look at their parent lines and the traits they are likely to exploit.

Festuloliums were first bred in the 1970s and exploit the strengths of both their parent varieties. Primarily, Meadow Fescue and Tall Fescue are used in the breeding programmes, with the Meadow Fescue from the Northern European climate offering winter hardiness and yields in less than ideal conditions and Tall Fescues offering drought and heat tolerance. Breeders are looking to improve yield, palatability and digestibility of these by crossing them with Perennial Ryegrass or Italia Ryegrass (IRG).

Trials results from all breeders of Festuloliums indicate that there is definite potential from these new varieties of grass to supply high quality feed and lots of it. Yields of Festuloliums regularly out yield IRG leys by up to 2t Dry Matter (DM)/ha. One Variety, Perseus, a meadow fescue - IRG cross, yielded 23t DM/ha with 22% protein. This variety which would last up to 3 years could be used as a direct substitute for IRG in a red clover ley to increase the grass yields from Red Clover leys especially in the third year.

Pearce Seeds Agronomist John Harris who continually looks at new varieties of grass, planted observation plots of Festulolium on two farms, in Mid Devon in 2016. They have been managed commercially under the same fertilizer regime as other leys on both farms.
The Festuloliums have performed well in a variety of situations but John's intention is to "keep trying new cultivars to see if we can improve yields and quality for farmers". He is already looking at some other grasses to observe their performance over the next few seasons.

John concluded that "they are not a silver bullet and as always the important thing is to make sure every part of a grass mixture can be justified and is fit for purpose". The importance is as every to pay attention to the varieties you use and select the right variety for the right purpose. If you would like to discuss the benefits of custom mixing grass seed for your business Pearce Seeds would welcome the opportunity to show what they have to offer.


Please contact us for more information:

Pearce Seeds LLP
Rosedown Farm
Marston Road

Tel: 01935 811 400
Fax: 01935 816 800