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28th Jul 2021

UPPER NISBET DEMONSTRATIONS

We are delighted to carry out a demo at Upper Nisbet courtesy of Robert Neill. His field is a very good example of mixed farmland in the Borders and should provide a very fair test. Currently, grass varieties are evaluated under grazing by three week cutting intervals during the April-June period, followed by monthly cutting after the 1st of July. Although this serves as a good indication of performance, it fails to take into account preferential grazing and on-farm conditions. The aim of this demo is to test the varieties on farm to get a realistic idea of their performance in a grazing situation. This should allow us to select the most appropriate varieties for our future mixtures. The field has been divided into 45 strips made up of different varieties and mixtures. They have been grouped together into 8 paddocks according to their heading date. The field was sown on the 3rd of September in good conditions and was through the ground within a few weeks. Four broad spectrum soil analysis were carried out to check for any deficiencies. There were none and the soil was very consistent throughout the field, with a minimum pH of 6.5. The cattle will be rotationally grazed on the paddocks with pre and post grazing heights recorded. Fresh leaf samples will be periodically taken to monitor the quality of the grasses and also, whether the herbs and deeper rooting varieties can harvest more minerals and trace elements from the soil. Mixtures range from the traditional perennial ryegrass white clover-based system to multispecies herbal leys. We will be looking to see if the cattle’s grazing behaviour and performance changes through having a diverse range of species rather than a ryegrass monoculture. We will keep you informed throughout the year and also look forward to sharing some of our findings with you at an open day in the summer.

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