Cows and Herbs

Herb-rich grassland is of interest to livestock farmers, citizens, governments and NGOs. It can be a good supplier of healthy roughage on the dairy farm, it stimulates soil life and it forms an attractive biotope for insects and meadow birds. It also contributes to sustainable and socially appreciated livestock farming.

In the project Cows and Herbs, we investigate how herbaceous grassland can be created and managed to make it a sustainable part of business operations. Mapping the pros and cons of herb-rich grassland, sharing knowledge about management and gaining experience in planting and managing herb-rich grasslands can increase the use of herb-rich grassland. In addition, in this project the added value of herb-rich grassland for cow and farm management and for insects and meadow birds is mapped.

Experiment mixtures and management

In this experiment we investigate how best to plant and manage herbaceous grassland on clay soil. In August 2017, we sowed a herbal test on Dairy Campus (clay soil) with three different mixtures:

  • Biodivers Primary Meadow Birds (BPW): This mixture (Chick Land Mixture, Divers) is intended to develop an easily fordable and herbaceous grassland during the growing season of meadow bird chicks.
  • Biodivers functional and meadow birds (BFW): In this mixture, the chickland mixture is supplemented with a number of functional species for production and nutritional value, N-bonding, mineral composition and rooting. It consists of ryegrass, white clover, chicory, caraway and lion's tooth.
  • Control: This sod consists of only English ryegrass (BG3).

In addition, these three mixtures are subject to four different management: combinations of delayed mowing date or not and different fertilization levels.
The first measurements were taken in 2018 to determine the types of composition and above-ground production of the various mixtures and management. In the coming years, measurements will also be made of feed value, earthworms, insects, soil structure and rooting.
The trial is being conducted by the Louis Bolk Institute in collaboration with Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences and Dairy Campus.