AgriSearch has produced a series of short videos in which it revisits farmers participating in the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project, ‘Multi-species swards (MSS) for beef and sheep’, to share their experience of taking part.
Now in its second year, this EIP project has brought together a group of individuals with complementary knowledge and experience with the objective of investigating the feasibility and practicality of including MSS on commercial beef and sheep farms.
By sharing their experiences, they hope to significantly increase the knowledge of MSS use and management strategies specific to Northern Ireland.
The first farmer featured in the video series is Andrew Clarke, on the farm of Wayne Acheson, a large beef finishing enterprise outside Cookstown.
Andrew discusses their experience of growing multi-species swards in the west of the Province, where this year’s wet spring brought challenges in management of the sward.
He outlines how they have mitigated these problems, as well as explaining the range of benefits they have observed as a result of growing multi species swards, such as improved soil health.
Andrew also discusses their plans for growing additional multi species swards in the future and offers his advice for anyone considering establishing their own sward.
The second farmer in the series is Dale Orr, from Strangford.
Dale runs an extensive organic beef and sheep enterprise and has established around 30 per cent of his farm into multi species swards.
He discusses the range of benefits that he has observed, including increased drought resistance on his shallow soils, as well as the increased animal liveweight gain and anthelmintic properties.
Dale also discusses the challenges that he has faced when managing multi species swards as part of an organic system.
These videos are now available to view on the AgriSearch website and YouTube channel.
The series will run throughout the summer and next up will be Crosby Cleland, who has a large sheep enterprise near Saintfield, and Sam Chesney, who has a beef and sheep enterprise near Kircubbin.
A copy of a literature review recently undertaken by Dr David Patterson, AFBI, investigating the potential for multi species swards to enhance ecosystem services within sustainable livestock systems is also now available to download from the AgriSearch website.
This project, as part of the European Innovation Partnership, is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
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