Welsh beef and sheep farmers interested in participating in a pioneering UK grass production project now have the opportunity to apply to take part.

GrasscheckGB works with nine beef and sheep farmers across Wales who measure grass weekly, and submit grass samples for analysis every fortnight during the growing season, in order to better manage grazed grassland and improve grass utilisation, farm profitability and sustainability.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is a collaborative funder of GrasscheckGB and is now leading the search for two new beef and sheep farms in Wales to join the project.

The project, a collaborative venture across the red meat and dairy sectors in Wales, England and Scotland, offers the farmers involved the skills and equipment needed to monitor weather and measure their grass yield and quality.

Soil moisture, temperature and weather readings are also collated, giving a full picture of all elements needed to grow grass efficiently. Results are shared across the industry for sector-wide benefit and understanding.

Farmers who join the project will be equipped with an automatic weather station which records temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and soil moisture. Farmers are also provided with training and support in using software and equipment as part of the project.

HCC’s Research and Development Executive, Dr Heather McCalman, explained: “We know that Wales is one of the best places to grow grass in the world. This means we can rear high quality livestock mainly using grazed pasture, the sun and rainwater, rather than buying in costly imported feed.”

“We are currently looking to offer two Welsh farm businesses the exciting opportunity to participate in the GrasscheckGB project as our intake window re-opens.”

Richard Rees, who farms with his brother Huw Llyr at Penmaen Bach near Machynlleth is currently in his second year as a GrasscheckGB farmer.

Penmaen Bach covers 60ha with 30ha rough grazing. Huw and Richard run a flock of 400 Aberfield cross ewes to Abermax rams. They are aiming to finish all lambs off grass on a rotational grazing system incorporating chicory and lucerne. The farm is trying to keep costs as low as possible by emphasising grass production and root crop use for wintering.

Richard commented ‘GrasscheckGB has been a great opportunity for us to understand more about our grass growth here at Penmaen Bach. The data and support provided has been highly valuable and I would encourage other farmers to make the most of the opportunity to take part.’

Heather McCalman said: “The aim of GrasscheckGB is to support farmers to improve grass growth and utilsation and develop a model to predict performance more effectively, encouraging efficiency and sustainability across the sector. Richard is an example of a farmer who has utilised the project to his advantage. I would strongly encourage any farmers interested in the project to make the most of this exclusive opportunity.’

To express interest in taking part in the project or for further information, farmers can contact HCC on 01970 625050 / info@hybucig.cymru. Application forms can also be found on the HCC website. Applications should be made by the end of day on 19th February.

GrasscheckGB is a collaboration between Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) together with CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) and researchers at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Rothamsted Research, as well as industry sponsors Germinal, Waitrose & Partners, Sciantec Analytical, Datamars Livestock and Handley Enterprises Ltd. CIEL is supporting the purchase of equipment on farms through funds from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency.

More information on GrasscheckGB can be found here.

Application forms can be found here.