Nutrient Wise Demos

This project aims to fill gaps in knowledge in an easy to understand and visible way to give more profit to farmers and reduce nutrient waste.




Project details

Throughout this project demonstration sites were set up for farmers to enable them to engage with grassland management methods. Examples of demo plot themes included establishing white clover (methods, percentage clover measurements and conversion to financial savings) and slurry use efficiency (benefits of accurate application, methods of application and avoidance of over application).

A grassland field guide for farmers

Download Soil Smart and Nutrient Wise here

Click here to see the Erratum of the Soil Smart Nutrient Wise Handbook

As a legacy to the project, the British Grassland Society has produced a field guide entitled ‘Soil smart and nutrient wise – a guide for on-farm practice’. The book is going to be available from Tuesday 1st October 2013.

The guide is unique in that it takes the reader through the on-farm practical tips in line with the seasons. First, it outlines the basics in grassland management including soil structure and texture, how to assess soils, the role of water, the key nutrients, and the importance of analysing manures. Chapter two highlights the things the farmer should be doing in the winter months, what needs to be thought about and prepared, such as assessing pastures or thinking about a nutrient management plan. The next chapter looks at early spring when the soil and air temperatures should be starting to warm up, the next set of jobs to be done and the preparation that needs to take place. This is followed by the spring surge or post magic day when the guide provides tips for farmers to make the most of the spring growth. A summer chapter looks into poaching, fertiliser and manure application and the benefits of clovers in the sward. Next is preparing for winter when the soil is vulnerable to damage during harvest.

The last section of the book is also what makes this book so distinctive. It describes to farmers how to do their own on-farm trials to find the best practices of soil maintenance and repair, nutrient application, and plant types used in leys that suit their fields and the environmental issues that need to be considered. Also in the appendix are step-by-step instructions of farmer-led demonstrations to aid them in running their own trials and to use the information developed during the Nutrient Wise Demo project.

Nutrient Wise Demo 2013

Soil chemistry and nutrient planning

This demonstration looked at soil chemistry and nutrient planning for grassland following the wettest year on record. In the afternoon it also looked at soil structure and compaction.

Download the soil chemistry information sheet here

Download the nutrient planning information sheet here

Download the soil structure sheet here

Nutrient Wise 2012 Satellite Demo sites

Dorset mini demonstration site

This demonstration aims to show the affect of chemical topping using round-up at varying rates to suppress grass growth and allow over seeding via direct drilling.

Download information sheet here

Soil Chemistry and Grassland Liming

This demonstration aims to discus the importance of liming grassland and look at which products are the most cost effective.

Download information sheet here

Options for grassland reseeding

This demonstration aims to discuss the decision making process of when to reseed a grass ley.

Download information sheet here

For more information from the 2012 events including all the technical information sheets, click on the events material button on the right hand side of the page.

Project activity 2011

Update March 2011

The 2011 reseeding demonstration plots, sown last autumn, are establishing well and showing some visual differences. These will be used, along with yield measurements and demonstrations of root depth to engage farmers in discussions on best practice, including the application of fertilisers where they are most needed to get the best response and avoiding unnecessary and wasteful applications of nutrients. The demonstrations will include areas that have not been re-seeded, which will undoubtedly produce lower yields with the same nutrient applications, again giving an important message on nutrient efficiency.

The demonstrations will also include five methods of introducing clover into a previously established sward, allowing us to show how to get to the well researched 30% clover in order to save on bagged Nitrogen applications. At the June and September farmer events, we will be setting up a manure / slurry demonstration. These will be costed to illustrate the economic benefits of effectively manuring grassland and reducing losses.

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What do farmers think?

Some farmers who attended a recent Nutrient Wise Demos event, had found sowing clover, letting it go to seed and grazing stock in the field to be the most effective method of integrating clover into the sward.

Undersowing into existing grassland had been found to have been particularly successful in organic systems.

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