Upland farmers sought for scientific research

Hill farmers are being sought to take part in scientific research

Hill farmers are being sought to take part in scientific research

AGRISEARCH is seeking to recruit six upland beef producers from across Northern Ireland as farmer co-researchers to participate in a new study being undertaken by AFBI which aims to develop suckler beef systems which improve sustainability and promote biodiversity within Northern Ireland’s uplands.

This project is co-funded by AgriSearch, LMC and DARD.

Historically, overgrazing by livestock has been a significant problem in upland areas. However, poor returns in the past 10 years have led to a significant reduction in livestock numbers, to the extent that undergrazing has now become a major issue. There is a need to better understand the value of upland vegetation as a habitat and animal feed resource, particularly in relation to the utilisation of rush and heather by cattle, and to investigate appropriate grazing and management strategies to utilise these habitats more fully.

The overall aim of this project is to identify breeding strategies to improve the economic sustainability of hill livestock systems, and to better understand the role of livestock grazing for maintaining biodiversity and delivering ecosystem services across a range of habitats and soil types.

The on-farm component of the experiment will last for two grazing seasons on six selected farms (ideally three with native genotypes and three with continental genotypes).

Forage growth and composition will be monitored throughout the grazing season. Grazing behaviour, forage selection, herbage intake and impact on bio-diversity will also be monitored. The effects of pasture growth and composition on animal performance will then be examined. Across the farms the impact of genotype and pasture supply/quality will be examined; in addition the impact of genotype on reproductive performance and production performance will be evaluated.

To register your interest in becoming a farmer co-researcher and to obtain an information pack contact AgriSearch Project Manager Jason Rankin on 028 8778 9770 or email: info@agrisearch.org. Information packs can also be downloaded from the AgriSearch website www.agrisearch.org The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 8th March.


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