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Did Sulphur make all the difference for Yara’s Grass Prix winner?

Drew and Margaret Wilson from Greenhead Farm, Forfar, Angus claimed the winning title for the 2016 Yara Grass Prix after a very closely fought competition.


Drew Wilson GrassPrix winner 2016

Drew and Margaret Wilson from Greenhead Farm, Forfar, Angus claimed the winning title for the 2016 Yara Grass Prix after a very closely fought competition.

Mr and Mrs Wilson achieved a record cumulative result in terms of both yield and quality, not only setting the standard for the 2016 competition throughout, but smashing all previous records. Together the energy and protein across both grass cuts are worth £2,295/ha* – compared to standard concentrate feeds – a considerable saving for the farm.

Greenhead Farm achieved:

  • Yield over the first two silage cuts of 62T FW/ha and a dry matter averaging 33% an equivalent of 21 T DM /ha.
  • CP of 16.1% and a protein yield of 3,385 kg/ha.
  • ME averaging 10.4 MJ/kg giving an overall cumulative energy yield of 218,699 MJ/ha

This is the second year Mr and Mrs Wilson have taken part in the Grass Prix, coming sixth in 2015 with a respectable yield of 13.4 T DM/ha, for 2016 they raised this by 7.6T DM/ha.

So, what did they do different to win this year’s grass prix competition?

“Looking at the results of the nutrient analysis conducted on the grass the answer could very well be sulphur,” explains Jez Wardman, Yara Agronomist and competition organiser. “The grass samples taken from Greenhead farm in 2015 had an average N content of 2.8% and an S content of only 0.18% giving an N:S ratio of 16:1 which indicated a sulphur deficiency.”

“This year, Drew applied a total of 100kg SO3 split over two applications, whereas in 2015 only 40kg SO3 was applied over the whole season. Samples taken this year had similar average levels of N at 2.6% but double the S content of 0.36% giving an N:S ratio of 7:1.”

In addition to the sulphur, the other noticeable difference is that Drew applied closer to the optimum rate of nitrogen for the second cut.

Greenhead Farm: a winning formula

  1. Soil Test – Routine soil test, to identify nutrient requirements.
  2. Re-seeding – Grass is all regularly re-seeded typically every 2-6 years, always sown into a soil of pH 6.2 to 6.3.
  3. Timing and variety – Plough and sow,direct reseeds after barley in the autumn with preferred variety mix, atsons Saltire 6 (2015 Watsons Saltire 2.)
  4. Field management – keeping the drainage right, monitoring compaction, grazing hard with sheep before getting them off early so the sward can increase cover again to protect it going into the winter.

Securing a Good Return on Investment

This year, Drew reprioritised his fertilizer nutrient spend to focus on sulphur and to achieve the optimum nitrogen application in his second cut. He spent an additional £30/ha over 2015, but managed to achieve an extra 7.6 T DM/ha over the two cuts. These fantastic results are further evidence that taking a measured approach to growing grass can really pay off.


Yara GrassPrix 2016 Top 5 – leaderboard

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