Grass harvesting is a complex operation at the new 50-acre grass and clover variety trials and research site at Waterford set up last summer by DLF, one of Ireland’s largest providers of grass seed.

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Grass plots are harvested with a special Haldrup machine which weighs the fresh yield, and measures dry matter content, digestibility, sugar and protein content.

It can measure two forage plots per minute, providing quick and accurate information to help grass breeders identify the top grass varieties of the future.

Over the coming 16 months, more than 3,000 plots will be harvested.

DLF will host open days during the summer where farmers and merchants can see how trials results are arrived at.

“DLF’s main selection criteria revolve around seasonal yield and digestibility.

“However, protein content, sugar content, ground cover, stress tolerance and disease tolerance are all parts of the selection program,” said Paul Flanagan, General Manager of DLF, which is headquartered at Ferrybank, Waterford.

The 50-acre trials and research site is also a satellite station feeding into the global DLF breeding program.

The first grass plantings on the new site were in 2015, and trials manager Jimmy Staples said, “Sowing conditions in the back end of 2015 were ideal, and with the mild, wet winter, we have heavy covers on the plots at this stage.”

Grass was recently measured on some of the plots, revealing early spring yields of 1,500-2,500 kg/ha.


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