BGS Members’ Newsletter
March 2017
In this Issue: Winter Meeting Success; Soil Quality Farmer Group; Summer Meeting Visits; Sprayer Legislation; Upcoming Events and MORE...

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Trace Elements in Focus – Winter Meeting Success

BGS thanks all the presenters and attendees at our Winter Meeting, which took place in Malvern at the start of the month. Working in collaboration with BSAS and BSSS, enabled a wide range of topics to be considered, essential for addressing the topic of trace element nutrition.  We also thank sponsors, LIC, Agricultural Lime Association and Animax, for making it all possible. The day was a valuable success in bringing those working from different perspectives on this cross-cutting issue together, with a focus on practical solutions in grasslands.

To start, the meeting heard about the vital role of micronutrient nutrition in human nutrition, and the important role that grassland produce can play in providing them through diet. Ian Givens, University of Reading, outlined stark data showing the inadequacy of micronutrient intake in the UK, particularly amongst teenagers. Of concern in this age group, Ian pointed to sub-optimal intakes of calcium, magnesium, iodine (and underlying low vitamin D) by girls. For various reasons, the food choices of adolescent girls have moved away from milk and other animal products, leaving them open to problems such as osteoporosis in later life unless the nutrients are replaced.

The meeting moved on to a range of papers presenting research indicating how farming practice might or does impact (up or down) the micronutrient status of forage, as well as highlighting the role that mineral balance has in maintaining herd/flock health and therefore, production efficiency. A significant question for farmers highlighted by the meeting is the choice between direct administration of trace elements to the animal, via licks or boluses, compared to soil fertilisation, with the aim of increasing uptake via herbage. Whilst some research has indicated differences in mineral status comparing various production systems, the importance of testing and understanding underlying soil status was also emphasised, and the case for the potential of precision-scale mapping and management to mitigate imbalances was made.

This meeting has reinvigorated the concept of Winter Meetings and  BGS hopes to, once again, establish them as a regular feature of our events calendar.

Read more from Winter Meeting 2017 in the next edition of Grass and Forage Manager.

Summer Meeting Visits Revealed

By now you will have received the Spring 2017 edition of Grass and Forage Manager - we really hope that you like the new look and title of our quarterly magazine, and also draw your attention to the center pages, where you’ll find details of the exciting schedule planned for this year’s Summer Meeting in Shropshire.

Amongst a diverse range of visits, in the so-called ‘county of contrast’ (referring to its former-industrial towns and sweeping countryside), will be a trip to see BGS 2014/15 President David Lee’s spring-block calving dairy farm, as well as James Evans, who was Farmer’s Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year in 2012, John and Edward Higgins, who run 1,300 ewes, finishing lambs primarily through rotational grazing and Tim and Louise Downes, who run an organic dairy, Tim having completed a Nuffield Scholarship and being awarded OMSCo Farmer of the Year in 2015.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list, with other attractions including further dairy farms and a tour of the farm research facilities at Harper Adams University (which will be the main venue/accommodation). There will also be nightly social activities and an alternative programme  for those wishing to take in some of Shropshire’s cultural/historical sites.

Booking will be available from early-May, and cost is expected to be in the region of £360 for full BGS members.
Images: Top, Winnington Green, David Lee. Bottom, Longnor, Tim Downes.

Upcoming Events

07 - 10 May 2017 19th EGF Symposium 2017: “Grassland resources for extensive farming systems in marginal lands: major drivers and future scenarios” | Alghero, Sardinia (Italy) | click here

24 - 25 May 2017 | Grassland and Muck | Stoneleigh Park | click here

15 June 2017 | BGS Winner's Farm Walk | Pentrefelin, near Lampeter, Ceredigion | click here

10 - 13 July 2017 | BGS Summer Meeting | Shropshire | click here

Look out for more events on the BGS Calendar
BGS Looks Wider...
Bringing a small selection of relevant links from external sites straight to your inbox


Farming and the countryside after Brexit: BBC Farming Today 14/03/2017
All this week Farming Today is hearing from a range of commentators on the likely impact of Brexit on food and farming - each episode can also be accessed from their site.

Defra figures show rise in farm incomes: Farming Online 02/03/2017

Bring back the flowers, Northumberland Wildlife Trust conference: Chroniclelive 11/03/2017

Test Soil and Manure to boost Grass yields: Smallholder 11/03/2017

Soil Quality Farmer Event – West Midlands

The Soil Quality Project, of which BGS is a partner, is developing and piloting a web-based tool to aid decisions on soil management. The tool will benchmark physical, chemical and biological indicators, that farmers can utilise to take site-specific soil quality issues into account when planning grassland management. The aim is that the tool will help make grassland production more sustainable for the long-term.

The project has involved widespread consultation, and the next stage is working with geographic farmer groups to help make sure the tool meets local needs.

An event, likely to be in Hereford, is planned for late April. This will be an opportunity for a group of farmers to meet the project team and find out more about the on-line tool. The intention is that the farmer group will then go on to; i) work with the support of the project team to collect soil samples recording field data on line and submitting samples (c. 40 in total per group) for analysis of pH, available P & K and soil organic matter in September/ October, and ; ii)
meet to benchmark the results, discuss implications for management and play with data in the web framework in late November/ December.

BGS will be working on this event along with partners from Farm Hereford, Wye and Usk Foundation and Dr Elizabeth Stockdale and others from Newcastle University, who are leading the project.

Further details will be available soon. Look out for updates on our website and social media, or contact us via the BGS office.

Timely Tip – Sprayer Rules Summarised
(with thanks to Dow for original content)

Recent legislation has seen loss of Grandfather Rights & introduction of Sprayer MOTs. Here then a summary of the rules as it relates to pesticides for professional use:

To buy: Anyone can purchase a pesticide for professional use provided they can certify that the application will be done by a suitably qualified spray operator. The obligation is on them to abide by this and it is an offence not to do so.

To apply professional use products, the sprayer operator will need either:

1) A Level 2 Safe Use of pesticide certificate – PA1 & PA2 for boom sprayer or PA1 & PA6 for hand held sprayers. You must have this certification if carrying out spray contracting for 3rd parties, and when spraying your own land.
2) The NTPC Level 2 award in the safe use of pesticides (replacing grandfather rights).

Sprayer MOTs. All boom sprayers greater than 3m width now need a Sprayer MOT issued by the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS). Hand held and Knapsack sprayers and boom sprayer less than 3m width are exempt from this.

To store Professional use products, a farmer must… have a store that can retain leakage or spillage to a volume of 110% of the total quantity of products likely to be stored (185% if you are in an ‘environmentally sensitive area’). Bunding is the most usual way of achieving this.

More news items on the BGS website…
Click on the headline for the full story..... 

National scale farm soil data

Forage will be theme of Herdsman's Conference

Consider the wider benefits of grassland this spring


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