Cheviot Futures

United in a Changing Landscape

Event attendees discussing soil assessment. Photo credit: Anna Caine/George Dodds and Co

Proactive Grassland Management - What's in it for me?

Park House Farm, Harbottle

A practical demonstration event was hosted by Cheviot Futures and CSF on Monday 13th May, and was judged to be a hugely successful, interesting and informative event for farmers and land managers.

The event was held on Rams Haugh, on Park House farm, Harbottle, by kind permission of Mark and Jilly Woolston-Houshold (landowners),Rural Partners Ltd and Robert Mackay (grazier), and comprised a practical demonstration of assessing soils for structural profile and compaction, led by James Bretherton of AgScope, followed by demonstration of a range of grassland aeration and sward lifting equipment.

The equipment was supplied and demonstrated by Carrs Billington Agriculture (Massey Ferguson and Ritchie), Rickerbys (Claas, Opico and McConnel), and private contractors Tony and James Drummond (Ritchie), and Silvermoor.

Those attending the event had the opportunity to learn about good soil profile characteristics, implications of compaction on grassland productivity, climate change resilience and diffuse pollution management, as well as viewing and comparing the equipment available which can assist in the management of grassland and particularly the alleviation of compaction issues.

The practical demonstration was then followed by a pie and peas supper at the Rose and Thistle, Alwinton, talks from James Bretherton (AgScope) and Ian Cairns (Farming Advice Service), and lively discussion.

The event was extremely well supported, with over 70 people attending in total, of which over 50 were from farming businesses, keen to learn more and consider applying that knowledge to their own land.

Grassland aeration and sward lifting treatment offers multiple benefits to grassland management, alleviating compaction in both the upper layers of the soil profile; commonly caused by livestock and weather conditions and assisted by aeration treatments, and also in the deeper layers of the soil profile; commonly associated with machinery and field operations and assisted by sward lifting treatment. The benefits to the soil structure increase nutrient uptake and infiltration of water through the soil profile, minimising surface water runoff in wet conditions and maximising water availability in dry periods. There was much discussion at the event of the benefits to productivity and indeed palatability of grassland as a result of such operations.