Grass is an important item in dairy farming
"It's all about grass in Amazing Grazing", says Bert Philipsen project manager of this project. When this was launched four years ago, the focus was mainly on making outdoor grazing possible. For this we have developed new knowledge and tools within the project that contribute to applying the motto 'Good grazing: simple and substantiated'.
We will briefly look back on this at the final meeting on December 18, but we will mainly look ahead to the role of grass in dairy farming in the future. Bert Philipsen, who works at Wageningen University & Research, talks passionately about this project, where various building blocks have been used to develop new knowledge and tools in the field of soil, grass stock, grass intake, cow behavior and supplementary feeding. “These new insights were certainly desirable. The latest research in this area dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, Philipsen notes.
New insights for grazing systems
The increasing interest in "pasture cows" increased the need for new knowledge. The dairy rewards farmers with a supplement for meadow milk, which means that more and more farmers went on stays. "In the past, grazing was experienced by many farmers as difficult. You do not know exactly how much grass there is in the pasture, how much a cow takes in, what you need to feed and what the quality is," Philipsen sums up. Among other things, the aim was to simplify the management of the various grazing systems. Furthermore, a simple and substantiated system that in principle anyone can apply was also looked at. This, together with the Weidegang Foundation, has resulted in the 'New Dutch Meadow'. Amazing Grazing has also conducted research into Stripgrazen and Kurzrasen. All systems are based on rhythm and regularity and therefore easier to manage, for example because the cows are given a piece or strip of fresh grass every day. “The big advantage of fresh grass every day is that it ensures less fluctuations, more peace and stability,” says Philipsen.
Grass is back on the agenda
In addition to the grazing systems, the behavior of the cow was also examined, both individually and in the flock. And what effect that has on grass intake. Work has been done on a tool that can be used to estimate the grass stock. The soil was also examined and the carrying capacity of various grazing systems was examined. "All in all, we have achieved a lot together in recent years. For example, grass growth has been made measurable, grass intake has been mapped out and good grazing with a high stocking density has been substantiated", says the researcher. Grass has thus been put back on the agenda of dairy farmers and advisers. "For the future, I see an important role for grass in dairy farming. Grass is the steering mechanism that can make an important contribution to the various sustainability goals. Now the focus is mainly on the cow. In the future there will be more cohesion between soil, production, company and environment, '' Philipsen concludes.
The most important results from this project will be discussed at the closing meeting on December 18 in Brummen. In addition, Friedhelm Taube, extraordinary professor of Grass-base dairy farming, will shed light on grass and pasture in the future. You can already find all the results from this project on the Amazing Grazing website.