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Grass Establishment Trial Plots Report

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Not having attended a grass trial plots open afternoon before, I wasn’t sure what was in store, (except for the obvious). I arrived and as per usual with a Scottish “summer”, the sun was in the sky and it was wet underfoot.

This afternoon saw a good turnout of 60 visitors with different backgrounds from near and far to Drumend Farm, Rattray and having representatives from Nickersons, Origin Fert, Angus Limestones, and Ritchies, there was plenty to be discussed by all who attended.

We were split into three groups and rotated round the areas with a different speaker at each. Plenty of questions were asked on changes to the plants and the different nutrition value at the various stages, which Nickersons had analysed in the lead-up to this afternoon with further facts and figures.

The speakers and farmers who attended thought it was beneficial and interesting to see the physical difference in each of the plots and to discuss the different fertilizers and elements used.

If everyone leaves today and even just checks the pH of their soil then it has been a worthwhile day, as farmers have learnt they will get a better yield of grasses with a slightly higher pH balance. This was measured at Drumend when taking the samples of cut grass, having them analysed and seeing a greater value in palatability. 

The exercise was carried out by Willie and Scott McIntosh of W.J.McIntosh agricultural contractor, Blairgowrie who used the a Gutler Green Master with Harrowflex and Prism Roller to carry out the work. This equipment which produced excellent work is available for hire by contacting Willie McIntosh or Rural Services office at 01738 550101.

The plots were sown in a 3.2ha field with lime being spread on 18th April and the plots sown on the 27th. New Life 4 fertiliser was sown on 5th May at 375kg/ha. On 24th May CAN 27% fertiliser was sown at 187kg/ha, with the stubble turnips being sown on 18th July.

The Catch Crop results, for example, were sown on April 27th, with it being ploughed and limed at 4tn/ha (1.6t/acre). The plants were harvested 30th June, 64 days after sowing which had a yield of 9.06t/Ha (3.67t/acre). In this plot, 6 bales were gained. Root and Stubble weight 5.960t/ha (2.41/acre) with a total biomass of 15.02t/ha (6.07t/acre) giving a top growth of 60.3% of total and root/shoot biomass 39.7% of the total. Growth per day from date of sowing equals 234.7kg/day with 212 plants per sq.m.

Whereas the Green Circle Results which were sown, ploughed, limed and harvested the same as the Catch Crop results but had a yield of 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre). In this half acre plot, 7 bales were taken. The Root and Stubble weight was 5.960t/Ha (2.41t/acre) but with root mass up to 15cm (6in) long and a 49% of the total biomass, which is a  key yield driver. The total Biomass is 12.16t/ha (4.92t/acre), top growth is 51% of the total and there is 248 plants per sq.m.

This field as a whole, will now be grazed by sheep and another open afternoon will hopefully be held in the Spring time to allow for further analysis to be taken and to see how the plants develop after this period.

Gillian Stewart

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