SRUC, Aberystwyth University, SAC Consulting and SAOS
In UK the MIXED project is implemented by SRUC, Aberystwyth University, SAC Consulting and SAOS in collaboration with two groups of farmers practicing Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MIFAS) in Scotland.
Agriculture in Scotland includes both specialized and mixed farming. Traditionally mixed systems include cereals, beef and sheep. In the most productive cropping areas very few farmers have livestock anymore.
East-West Cattle Grazing Project – a network of farmers trialing the out wintering of breeding cattle
Aim: To evidence the financial and environmental value of moving breeding cattle to lower cost natural resources.
Objective: Trialing movements of breeding cattle from east to west for summer/backend grazing and movements of breeding cattle from west to east for out wintering on forage crops.
This project was developed in 2018 during a severe fodder and forage crisis for Scotland livestock farmers. The reasoning for these farms joining the project could be due to a fodder shortage, but also due to a need to free up time at home, a change in management practice, economic benefit and/ or an expansion.Trials were conducted where cattle are on cereal stubbl with access to straw and silage – as well as cattle on forage crops and silage.
Trials concluded over the 2019/20 winter for the project, but all projects have carried on themselves in some shape or form for 2020/21 winter.
The grazing winter cereals with sheep network started following the dry summer of 2018, which resulted in a forage shortage on a mixed farm in Perthshire. Under pressure from the lack of grass growth, one farmer asked the question: what happens if I graze my cereal crops? This led to SAC consulting forming a group of like-minded growers who all wanted to explore this idea further. Funding was provided under the Rural Innovation Support Service and on farm trials ensued. Now, three years later the initial group are advocates for this method of crop management, which allows crop sowing earlier in the season protecting soil structure. Additionally, disease management and even the signs of a yields uplift have been observed. This group is working with SRUC/SAC Consulting to develop and carry out replicated trials to provide scientific evidence for what appears to be a promising way to integrate livestock on to arable farms.
Morayshire Trial Video: https://youtu.be/jLzRvdQo3Xg
Lothians Trial Video: https://vimeo.com/430335825/798ba1df1a
Team UK visited an organic hill sheep and beef farmer as part of he Aberystwyth University BSc undergraduate livestock module, and working in collaboration with the Woodland Trust to establish new hedgerows on his farm. The farm is at high altitude (for Wales) and is exposed to high winds and cold temperatures in the winter. The farmer has multiple reasons for increasing the hedgerows on the farm including: protection for grazing animals (sun, wind and rain), providing wildlife corridors between existing forestry plots on the farm, for climate change mitigation/carbon fixation and to provide new field boundaries to implement a rotational grazing system on the farm. The Woodland Trust works with the farmer to design appropriate hedge planting plans and also contributes in part to the cost – a win win for the farmer to achieve their goals for the family farming business.
Livestock Production students heard recently how the Woodland Trust Cymru through the MOREhedges Scheme are working with a local organic hill sheep and beef farmer in Wales to develop significant hedgerow planting on the farm. Increased hedgerow planting has been identified by the farmer as a key objective for the farm over the next few year to provide protection for grazing animals from sun and cold wind/rain, to provide wildlife corridors between existing forestry areas, as climate change mitigation and to subdivide fields to introduce a rotational grazing strategy on the farm.The Woodland trust are working with the farmer to design a planting strategy to meet these varied needs and also contributing to some of the cost – a win win for the farmer
Find out more: Plant Hedges on Your Land with MOREhedges - Woodland Trust
Network co-ordinator for "East-West Cattle Grazing"
Christine Watson (SRUC)
Phone: +44 (0) 1224 711143
Network co-ordinator for "Sheep grazing winter cereals"
Pip Nicholas-Davies (Aberystwyth University)
Phone: +44 (0) 1970 622240