Milk production systems, based on a high reliance on grazed herbage, offer a number of economic, animal welfare and environmental benefits. In order to increase uptake of such systems within the European Union, this proposal brings together expertise from five Member States within the EU to develop and validate European grass growth and herbage intake models, and to incorporate these within a practical decision support system for use at farm level. At an EU level, the models developed in this project will enable examination of policy decisions on the relative competitiveness and economic sustainability of pasture-based production systems within individual Member States.
The overall objective of this proposal is to develop an effective decision support system to assist dairy farmers in the Atlantic Arc region of the European Union to optimise the proportion of grazed grass in the diet of the dairy cow. This will require the development and inter linking of predictive models for herbage growth and herbage intake of grazing dairy cows for a wide range of sward and climatic conditions.
Development of herbage growth model (HGM)
Following a detailed evaluation of three current grass growth models, using test data from throughout Europe, a new model has been developed which predicts seasonal herbage production from forecasted meteorological inputs, in addition to N fertiliser inputs.
Validation of Herbage Growth Model
The HGM was independently validated using two data sets based on grass growth monitoring at the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland and at Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Development of a decision support system (DSS)
The overall objective of the DSS is to assist farmers in planning their grazing management through the provision of information on grass growth and intake. The DSS provides prediction of grass growth rates based on data input to the HGM, whilst also predicting the extent of grass removal through grazing (via the HGM). Inputs to the DSS include information on meteorological data and fertilizer nitrogen application, paddock size and animal characteristics and the DSS predicts growth rates, herbage intake and animal performance on a daily basis.
FOOD, ANIMALS, GRASSLAND, CAP AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Scientist responsible for the project
Mr GEOFFREY'E TROUGHTON
BT26 6DR Hillsborough
United Kingdom (The) - GB
Phone: +44 2892 682484
Fax: +44 2892 689594
||AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF NORTHERN IRELAND
||01 October 2001
||1 543 991 €
|Total EC contribution
||955 395 €
|Web address of the project
- INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE, France - FR
- SVERIGES LANTBRUKSUNIVERSITET, Sweden - SE