Farming without fertiliser - can it be done?
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In April 2021 they established over 40 acres of multi-species swards, ranging from a diverse 18 species mix to a simple pure chicory sward, and a number of the more usual 6-species and red clover silage mixes in between.
Apart from the pure chicory mix no artificial N fertiliser has been sown since the swards were established in April last year. Their experiences to date will be the focus of an upcoming farm walk on Monday 13th June. There will be two walks with first one starting at 3pm and the second at 7pm. Each walk will last around 2 hours.
While establishment was a challenging process the swards are now performing very well despite not receiving any artificial N fertiliser. Paul and Frank have both emphasised the mindset change that is required to establish and manage multi-species swards. The mutual support and assistance of the “Multi-Species Swards for Beef & Sheep” European Innovation Partnership (EIP) operational group has been invaluable. The group is led by AgriSearch, and involves six beef and sheep farmers from across Northern Ireland. Scientific support is provided by AFBI and Queen’s University.
The members of the EIP group will be contributing to the farm walk. The theme of the farm walk is ‘Learning by Doing’ and it will provide an excellent opportunity for those thinking about establishing multi-species swards on their own farms to gather practical information. The farm walks will take place at an out-farm close to 40 Ballyhornan Road, Downpatrick, BT30 6RH. All are welcome. While it is not essential we would appreciate it if those intending to attend would register in advance to help us plan. This can be done via the AgriSearch website www.agrisearch.org