Scottish beef and lamb producers who effectively manage their soil and grassland can increase profitability and reduce their costs and their carbon footprint, according to a new Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) booklet launched today (16 December 2013).
The “Better Soil and Grassland Management” booklet outlines the numerous factors that are involved in improving soil and grassland management. The booklet, compiled by consultants from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), also provides comprehensive examples of ideas that can be put into practice on farm.
Kathy Peebles, QMS Livestock Development Manager, said: “In this year’s QMS producer survey, grassland improvement was identified as the top investment priority for Scottish sheep and beef farmers.
“Grassland is a continuously changing environment with many factors contributing to the challenge of managing it effectively. This booklet brings together practical tips that will help farmers maximise sward output and help alleviate some of the problems they may be facing as grassland managers.
“It also outlines how farmers can better feed the soil microbes, reduce compaction and to try to avoid having to turn to the plough and the expense of a reseed.”
Rhidian Jones, Beef and Sheep Consultant at SAC Consulting, said: “In recent years there has been an increasing interest in managing soil and grassland. However, the appalling conditions seen in 2011 and 2012 prompted our farmers to take action, mainly due to necessity as their grass fields have suffered and the cost of feed has increased.
“We always advise farmers to start off by looking at the soil, testing the pH, Phosphate and Potash as well as tackling any soil structure and compaction issues.
“After this has been done we can look more closely at reseeding or renovating swards with grass seed mixtures that suit their system.
“The final piece of the jigsaw is to then manage their grassland so that as much grass as possible is utilised.
“Home-grown grass and forage is the cheapest source of feed on livestock farms and by getting all these steps correct it is possible to reduce costs significantly whilst improving livestock performance.”
The free booklet is available to download here or a hard copy can be obtained by contacting QMS on 0131 472 4040.