Are Intensive Grazing Systems Sustainable?
In 2018 Precision Grazing and Rothamsted Research with start a 2 year project to investigate the net environmental impact of TechnoGrazing vs Set-Stocking using DairyxBeef cattle. Supported by the Cornwall Agri-Tec fund the project will be based at Rothamsted's North Wyke site in Devon. Three replicates of 1ha Cell Grazing and 1.7ha Set-stocking areas will be installed to be grazed by groups of 12 Autumn born weaned calves. Systems will be managed in accordance to best practise with all inputs and outputs being measured inducing; N, P and soil particulate run-off. The systems total emissions will be compared against net production of meat which will be analysed for micro nutrient content as well as taste.
Driver for the project is to understand the influence stocking rate and management have on net environmental impact. The results will be published in a series of papers to help influence the policy of stakeholder groups and government.
There is a vacancy for a PHD student to start in Feburary 2018: https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/studentships?page=1
Glynllifon Agricultural College - Inspiring the Next Generation
Glynllifon College have become the first educational institute in the UK to install a TechnoGrazing System as part of their plan to equip their students with pasture and grazing management skills. The 21ha site has been divided by Precision Grazing into 3x7ha systems using electric fencing to create a productive and labour efficient system as well as a fantastic teaching resource.
The systems will be grazed by cattle and sheep, each group moving to new pasture every 2-4 days. The students will be involved with the day to day operation; stock movements, pasture measurement and feed allocation as well as receiving training from James Daniel (Director, Precision Grazing), learning about the principles of grazing, electric fencing and water systems. The skills gained will be incredibly valuable, allowing them to add value to family business or future employers, increasing output whilst reducing costs.
TechnoGrazing Open Day - October 2016
In early March 2016 Precision Grazing designed and installed a TechnoGrazing System in a 6.4Ha field belonging to sheep and beef farmer Steven Thorne. This system was 1 of 3 installed as part of a trial supported by AHDB and their Farm Innovation Grant Scheme. The open day allowed interested Levy Payers to visit this system and another run by progressive sheep farmer Nick Jasper. Perfect weather showed off the first system to its best, excellent quality pasture and a stunning mob of 17 month Black Limosuin Steers/Heifers. James Daniel from Precision Grazing Ltd has been providing the grazing management for the systems. He explained that the field, a 5 year old ley was on course to grow 14tonnesDMha with only 110kgNha (92Units/acre).
During most of the spring and summer it had been stocked at 6.6hd/ha (2.7hd/acre) with the 10 heaviest animals being removed in September to leave 30 animals for the final rotation (4.6hd/ha). The system has produced nearly 800kgLWha already this year. The feed budget shows the remaining cattle have enough grass another 30 days which should help achieve the target of producing 1000kgLWha/year!
The second system, installed on 12Ha has a ley containing Tonic Plantain established in Autumn 2015. It was initially was stocked in spring with 240 ewes and 450 lambs up to weaning then has carried an average of 500 store lambs.
Store lambs have been quickly trained to respect the electric fences thanks to high voltage being maintained yet still cross over the polywire break fences when they moved to a new cell every 2 days. Low pasture DM during September has reduced growth rates but this system is still on track to produce 650kgLWha this year.
The TechnoGrazing System design has been a real positive for the farmers involved in the trial, enabling them to move their stock every couple days with minimal labour.
The trial is due to finish in November with results published by the AHDB in December.