Are you ready for more drought in 2023?
Climate change is here to stay. If you’re wondering how you can maintain steady forage production in the face of cold and harsh winters, excessive rainfall and sodden soils, or periods of drought with brown fields and burnt crops, we can help. We have plenty of ideas for helping you farm successfully with stable and more reliable forage production.
Futuristic thinking supported by decades of breeding
No one understands grass qualities as intimately as we do. For decades we have been looking at ways to use grass genetics to improve performance – for better forage quality, longer persistency and faster establishment. Through crossing and recrossing of grasses with the qualities you value, we have looked to the future by developing new varieties that perform even better than the grasses from which they came.
Two superb outcomes of our futuristic thinking and rigorous scientific approach are our Ryegrass PLUS and Tall fescue PLUS concepts. These multipurpose grasses are exactly what you need: grasses that will keep your herds fed through the coming years of climate change.
Deep impact through roots
Grasses are unique among the plant kingdom. Their ability to continually grow from new shoots close to the roots is the reason they can be harvested or grazed multiple times during a year, and still have enough energy to persist year after year.
New growth does, however, need a good supporting root system. Growth after a spring or summer drought will be stronger from a grass variety with strong and well-developed root system. Good post-drought regrowth has a positive knock-on effect on yields throughout the remainder of the season. Swards that can do this reduce the headaches associated with finding additional feed to compensate for drought-related damage.
Rainfall patterns affect breeding of grasses
Grass species bred for the northern European climate are not designed to cope with periods of drought because drought has never been a serious problem. Since climate change is altering rainfall patterns, we should assume that from now on periods of floods and droughts will occur more frequently. Farmers typically encounter two types of drought: a spring drought in which you often find water available in deeper soil layers, and a summer drought in which the soil is completely devoid of water.
Root performance is the key to coping with spring droughts. With strong, deep roots, plants can reach into deeper soil layers where water is still available. Root performance is a topic that our R&D teams have been working on in conjunction with researchers at the RadiMax facility. As a result we now know a lot more about grass-root architecture.
Survival of the fittest: Ryegrass PLUS and Tall fescue PLUS
Each grass species has its own drought-survival mechanisms. During a spring drought, the plant’s primary need is continued access to water. Some grass species cope by growing deeper roots to find water in lower soil layers. These grasses, with their deeper root mass, improve your ability to maintain reliable and consistent forage production.
Our Ryegrass PLUS and Tall fescue PLUS are excellent choices for drought survival. The science behind these grasses is complicated and their agricultural qualities are wide-ranging. To keep things simple: Ryegrass PLUS exhibits the same quick root growth as ryegrass, but develops a deeper root mass, which makes it more drought-tolerant. Tall fescue PLUS has the same generous root mass as tall fescue, while providing better spring and summer forage quality.
By choosing the right varieties for your forage mix you will grow a sward that maintains good yields throughout a drought-prone year.
Find out more: be drought-ready
To find out how to make your farm drought-prepared, go online to read about Ryegrass PLUS and Tall fescue PLUS, or speak to your local DLF representative.