The global ruminant livestock industry is being tasked by policy makers and stakeholders to produce increased output whilst reducing net environmental impact. In answer to this; farmers are looking to intensify their systems and reduce their reliance on costly inputs.
Precision Grazing, a consultancy business helping farmers improve pasture productivity, is working with experts at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke on a two-year project to test the environmental, economic and social sustainability of an intensive rotational system of ‘cell grazing’ on dairy beef cattle.
The system works by increasing the amount of quality grass available to animals through tighter management, raising the amount the stock eats and reducing damage to the sward by allowing forensically close control of ‘grazing pressure’.
The rate at which animals are allowed to move between ‘cells’ is based on the pasture availability and quality, along with the animals’ size and dietary requirements.
Productivity gains cannot lead to increased negative impacts on the natural environment and the services they provide; such as clean water, healthy soils and carbon sequestration. To test this and ensure the long-term viability of the cell grazing model, Precision Grazing are working with a team from Rothamsted Research’s Grassland Livestock Systems team to quantify the net environmental impact compared to the more commonplace ‘set-stocking’ (continuous grazing) approach. Through this they hope to test the potential of these systems to deliver both economic and environmental benefits for the grassland sector in Cornwall and beyond.
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