Permanent grassland: pilot farms involved in the European SUPER-G project are all set to optimise their production systems!

Permanent grassland: pilot farms involved in the European SUPER-G project are all set to optimise their production systems!
Permanent grassland: pilot farms involved in the European SUPER-G project are all set to optimise their production systems!

After two meetings in 2019, the SUPER-G farm network in Normandy has set its work priorities for the next 4 years. But the priority for 2020 is to improve rotational grazing techniques. Further details.

Grazing management is complex: too much or not enough grass, too much or not enough water, heat, access, field conditions… But what are the specific challenges of a pasture system mainly based on permanent grassland!

The Normandy farmers group, as partners of the European SUPER-G project on improving the management of permanent grassland, has selected this theme as a work priority for the next grazing season. The group is made up of 20 pilot farms with diverse production systems (12 dairy farms, 7 suckler beef farms, 1 sheep and 1 mixed farm with cattle and horses), distributed throughout the territorial region (1/3 in organic farming ), and all wishing to improve their knowledge and grazing techniques.

Should we develop techniques favoured in Australia, with grass left to grow tall over long grazing intervals, to improve livestock performance? Or should we test ‘bale grazing’* during winter as an alternative to pasture? Or is it better to test new reseeding techniques? The group is not lacking in technical questions and ideas!

Keen to test innovative practices, the group will further define its protocols at the next winter meeting to plan the 2020 grazing season.

Beyond these priorities, the group has identified other topics to work on in this project. Some are more technical, such as working on foliar analysis to optimize nutrient management on permanent grasslands. Others focus more on the ecosystem services delivered to society through permanent grassland, such as biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage, reducing erosion, the aesthetics of grassland and mixed landscapes, and the quality of grass-based products (milk and meat) …

This group now has 4 years of work ahead of it, to explore, innovate, and test various techniques to improve the productivity of permanent grasslands. It remains open to new, additional volunteers who wish to get involved from 2020 onwards. Wec look forward to engaging with you over the course of the project through further articles, workshops and open fora, to discover solutions co-developed by the SUPER-G farmers group in Normandy and indeed their European colleagues.

Claire CARAES and Catherine BAUSSON, Regional Chamber of Agriculture in Normandy

* Bale grazing involves providing baled silage or hay to livestock in autumn in fields that are preferably well drained. The objective is to adapt the stock to the paddock, according to the nutritional and health requirements of the animals and to achieve a form of rotational grazing over winter.

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