Farmers from Pembrokeshire once again dominated the top spots at the All Wales Grassland Farming Competition.

Competition was very tight as usual but the judges agreed unanimously on a very worthy winning combination of father and son Aled and Owain Rees of Treclyn Isaf, Eglwyswrw, Crymych (members of Cardigan Grassland Society).

This year’s runner-up is Richard Morris, Bowett Farm, Hundleton, Pembrokeshire (a member of Cleddau Grassland Society)

The judges reported that they were privileged to visit five excellent grassland farmers during the course of judging and are grateful to the finalists for the excellent tours of their farms and their willingness to provide and share detailed information on their farming systems.

The generally dry spring and early summer was starting to create a shortage of grass on lowland farms in particular and grazing rotation was already being lengthened with some silage supplementation occurring or imminent.

Grassland and forage crops alike were looking really well on the farms visited, and everyone is to be highly commended for the appearance of the grassland and livestock as well as the farms in general.

In order to reach this stage of the competition it can now be taken for granted that all farms were carrying out the fundamental aspects of grassland management exceptionally well.

A common theme, in addition to technical excellence, the gathering and use of information as well as attention to detail, was a great deal of attention to soil fertility and health (especially in light of the substantial increase in fertiliser – and manure – prices) with excellent use of the farms’ manure and slurry, full awareness of the impact of NVZ designations and sound environmental management credentials.

Treclyn Isaf farm is 384ha (950 acres) in total, a proportion of which is on fairly heavy clay soils, and all managed organically (organic since 2001).

The farm is made of 16ha (40acres) of arable cropping and 368ha (910acres) of grassland. Cropping include forage rye, peas plus barley and oats, red and crimson clovers as well as fodder beet, which is grown for the farm on contract.

The main dairy holding, is 104ha (260acres) and carries 300 largely Friesian/Holstein block calving dairy cows (⅓ spring and ⅔ autumn calving). Milk yields currently average 7,500litres per cow from 1790kg concentrates and 100kg straights with 10,400 litres/ha being produced from forage.

The judges were particularly impressed by the fully integrated system of land and animal management where every aspect of land animal management tied in neatly together. A key feature of the farming system were the yield and quality of grass grown, a very impressive 10.3tonnes DM/ha/annum on an organic system.

Judge Marc Jones (winner in 2021 who went on to become the British Grassland Society Grassland Farmer of the Year) commented that “the adoption of new technologies extending from buildings and cow management information to crop nutrition and grassland management was particularly impressive”.

His fellow judge, Dr Iwan Owen, was equally impressed with their grassland management and their extremely efficient use of manure, slurry and dirty water for grazing, silage and cropping. “We saw a very well thought out and managed system producing milk effectively from a grass and forage based diet to certified organic standards and the Rees family are very worthy winners.”

Runner-up Richard Morris, Bowett Farm, Hundleton, Pembroke (members of Cleddau Grassland Society) farm 370ha (916 acres) largely on red sandstone composed of 92ha (230acres) of wheat and barley (crimped and whole crop), 140ha (350acres) of grassland as a silage block and 170ha (426acres) of dairy cow and youngstock grazing.

In addition 500 autumn calving milking cows (Friesian/Holstein) average 7,000litres and 110 heifer replacement, 195 heifer calves and 65 Charolais x calves are also reared.

The other three worthy finalists and regional winners were:

• J O Jones, Nant y Fran, Cemaes, Amlwch (members of Anglesey Grassland Society)

• David, Rachel and James Lee, Winnington Green Farm, Middletown, Welshpool (members of Powys Grassland Society)

• Andrew, Emma, Jack and Charlie Baldwyn, Vale Farm, Lower Chapel, Brecon (members of Brecon Grassland Society)

The FWGS All-Wales Grassland Farming competition is sponsored by HSBC and run in conjunction with RWAS. The competition is open to all members of the 22 Welsh Grassland Societies.