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Grass, minerals and flukes - another successful on farm KE event by Moredun and the Crown Estate Scotland

Attendee at Grass, Minerals and Flukes event

Poldean Farm near Moffat, run by the Davidson family, was the venue this week for a very well attended and successful farm event run by Moredun and the Crown Estate Scotland. Titled “Grass, Minerals and Flukes”, the event was designed to explore links between farm bedrock, soils, grassland production and usage, with trace mineral availability and livestock health, such a liver fluke control. Expert speakers in their field, Charlie Morgan, Grass Master, David McClelland, Technical Director, Norvite and Philip Skuce, Principal Scientist, Moredun then discussed best integrated practice to manage these aspects of grass and livestock production aimed at increasing efficiency.

The key messages from the afternoon were that huge improvements in the efficiency of livestock production can be made by making changes to how we manage our grassland systems and by improving our grazing regimes. This was shown in the field by Charlie, promoting the use of an old fashioned spade to investigate soil structure across individual fields, including looking at how invertebrate populations are indicators of soil health. How best to manage grass leys, our cheapest form of livestock feed, to increase grass and hence livestock productivity, was discussed at length with a highly engaged audience of beef, sheep and dairy farmers and students.

Interesting links were established by David McClelland between trace mineral availability from a soil and forage analysis, carried out on Poldean prior to the event, illustrating the importance of soil structure to allow release of minerals from bedrock to the forage crop, which in turn has a huge effect on animal health. This theme was carried through to liver and rumen fluke control, as Philip Skuce concentrated on the importance of the parasites’ life cycle and grazing management on disease control, using Moredun’s newly released animation in their entertaining and highly acclaimed series.

Crown Estate Scotland Head of Property Andy Wells said: “Events like this are hugely beneficial in sharing practical actions that farmers can take to plan and prepare for future developments in the agriculture sector. As a landlord, Crown Estate Scotland takes our responsibilities to support our tenants very seriously. We greatly value the partnership we have with the Moredun Research Institute which enables farmers across the Scottish Crown Estate to access up-to-date, cutting-edge, scientific research supporting animal welfare and livestock productivity”.

Professor Lee Innes, Moredun’s Director of Communications said: “Farm events are an excellent forum to discuss and exchange information on a range of different topics relevant to livestock farmers and we were delighted to be working again in partnership with the Crown Estate Scotland to deliver this interesting event with an excellent line up of speakers and topics. The expert way in which our three speakers developed and explored links between the areas of soil health, grass production, mineral availability and livestock health made for stimulating discussion and a highly informative afternoon.”