Turning grass into cash

John Henning, Danske Bank (first right) with (from left) George Reid, Steven Morrison and Mark Blelock of the Ulster Grassland Society
John Henning, Danske Bank (first right) with (from left) George Reid, Steven Morrison and Mark Blelock of the Ulster Grassland Society

Turning grass into cash is the theme for the Ulster Grassland Society’s annual conference on Tuesday 24th January at the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim.

This theme will be discussed by four speakers who will outline how farmers can optimise output from grass to help reduce production costs.

Welsh independent grass and forage specialist Charlie Morgan, who attended a UGS farm walk a few years ago, brings his wealth of experience delivering grassland knowledge and practical know-how to hundreds of grassland farmers throughout the UK. Conail Keown, adviser with the IFJ Dairy Link project, will consider how farmers in the project have increased the amount of grass grown and what decisions were made to utilise this growth in the most efficient way. This topic is discussed further by Donal Patton, Teagasc dairy research technologist based in Ballyhaise Agricultural College. Donal will look at how sustainable grass based systems of milk production can be operated on farms with more difficult soils, taking into account farm fragmentation, cow type and feeding strategies. The fourth speaker is Mike Powley, a suckler farmer from York. All the land (120 ha) is rented and the tenancies have no formal agreement. The main enterprise is a herd of 100 suckler cows in a traditional spring calving system with bulls finished on cereals. Selection criteria is based on high (top 10%) maternal EBV’s, looking for easy calving, good milking animals and high 400 day weights.

Winners of the 2016 Grassland Farmer of the Year and various category winners will also be announced. Mark Blelock, UGS president said: “We are indebted to Danske Bank for the continued significant financial support for the society’s competition. The willingness of Danske to work along with the UGS to promote and recognise the good farming practices of farmers across the province to grow and utilize grass effectively is important.”

Booking for the conference is essential and should be made through the honourable secretary at 07920 037 910 or email secretary@ulstergrassland.co.uk. Non-members are welcome but must pre-book before 19th January at the latest.