Yara launches Grass Prix 2015

Donal Callery, 2014 entrant
Donal Callery, 2014 entrant

With more farmer entries and a new growing season ahead, Yara are excited to launch their Grass Prix competition for 2015 in the UK and Ireland.

Now in its second year, the competition will again focus on optimal grass nutrition and has attracted a mixture of new faces and some returning competitors from last season. The winner will be the farm that produces the highest Metabolised Energy (ME) yield (MJ/ha) over two cuts of silage.

2014’s competition was hard fought, with all entrants improving their grass growing performance, averaging ME yields of 138,520 MJ/ha, significantly beating the UK and Ireland average of 88,000 MJ/ha. Eventual winner, Scottish dairy farmer Willie Watson, ‘took the chequered flag’ with a Metabolised Energy (ME) yield of 183,927 MJ/ha, and feed value of 17.7DMt/ha and will be defending his title this year.

“Grass is a vital part of any livestock enterprise and remains the most cost–effective feed for the dairy, beef and sheep sector either as grazing or conserved forage,” explains Jez Wardman, Grass Prix Organiser and agronomist from Yara. “It requires careful attention to optimise the output and maximise returns, and too often this is overlooked. Effective nutrition has a vital role in growing grass successfully, in both yield and quality.

“2014 analysis taught us that there is no ‘one size fits all’ recommendation; so each farm, indeed each field, is different and should be managed accordingly,” explains Mr Wardman. “For Mr Watson, a dairy farmer with cows that yield 11,000 litres a year, having grass silage valued at the equivalent of £2,943 £/ha (compared to Brewer’s Grains July 2014) as the foundation of the ration has made a significant difference.”

Who will be the winner this year?

The entrants into Yara Grass Prix competition for 2015 are:

Elgan Evans – Dairy farmer from Llanrwst, North Wales

Jan Coward - Beef farmer Sherborne, Dorset

Joe Spicer – Dairy farmer from Sturminster Newton, Dorset

Robert Tilly – Dairy farmer from Penzance, Cornwall

Tom and Simon Browne – Dairy farmers from County Cork, Republic of Ireland

James Coombes – Dairy farm manager at Duchy College, Cornwall

Drew Wilson - Beef farmer from Forfar, Angus, Scotland

Willie Watson – Dairy farmer from Ayrshire, south west Scotland

Iain Green – Beef farmer from Fochabers, north east Scotland

David and Ian Murphy - Beef Dairy farmers from County Armagh, Northern Ireland

Tom Rawson – Dairy farmer from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Alan Wallace – Dairy farmer from County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Eddie Jordan – Dairy farm manager with UCD County Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Danny and Patrick Cremin – Dairy farmers from County Limerick, Republic of Ireland

Robert Bryson - Dairy farmer from County Down, Northern Ireland

“Yara’s regional sales team will be working closely with the farms, offering the tools, resources and advice to help the entrants succeed,” continues Mr Wardman, “including free analysis of soil, slurry and tissues; advice on all inputs, application rates and timings; help measuring the yield at harvest and free analysis of samples for grass quality.

“The analysis will allow us to have a better understanding of how all entrants reached their final yield and build on the important lessons learnt in 2014 on maximising the yield from grass.” Mr Wardman explains. “Currently grass yields in the UK and ROI deliver 6-10t/Ha of dry matter which is, on average, less than half of its biological potential. One of the main reasons for low grass yields is the poor or incorrect use of nitrogen (N) fertilizer, in terms of rate and times of application. Grass really deserves the same level of attention to detail more usually given to arable crops.”

Final results of the Yara Grass Prix competition should be available in August following anticipated second cuts in June and July. For further information and to learn more about Yara’s latest innovations in grassland management - including the use of N Sensor on grass - please log on to www.yara.co.uk/grass-prix