CIEL | Project: GrassCheckGB – Improving the productivity and profitability of grassland

Genetics | Reproduction | Behaviour | Nutrition | Health & Welfare | Productivity | Food Integrity | Environmental Impact

Grassland agriculture underpins the ruminant livestock sectors in the UK. The potential for high levels of grass production and utilisation gives British agriculture a key competitive advantage against many other livestock production regions across the globe. However, there is significant scope to improve grassland productivity in the UK.

Each additional 1T DM utilised per hectare can be worth between an estimated £204 and £334 per year in net margin.
To assist farmers in making the most of this valuable feedstuff, CIEL is working alongside researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Rothamsted Research, supported by the three GB levy bodies AHDB, HCC and QMS and industry partners to deliver the pasture benchmarking initiative GrassCheckGB.

With the threat of extreme and unpredictable weather expected more frequently, having the evidence-based tools available to manage grass effectively in difficult conditions is increasingly important. The data from GrassCheckGB has been utilised in the development of predictive models. Using grass growth and weather forecast data, these models will provide 7- and 14-day estimates of grass growth.

***Project Update January 2022 ***

For the last 3 years, GrassCheckGB has been a welcome source of weekly local & regional grass growth updates and timely management tips for the farming community. Data collected has also been feeding into the development of innovative predictive grass models which will further support on-farm management decisions. Its success is a prime example of how truly collaborative projects can benefit the agrifood sector.

A project extension has now been confirmed beyond GrassCheckGB’s initial 3-year term, providing an opportunity to widen the scope and include additional work packages.

The proposed additional research activity includes:

• Evaluating the impact of different rotational grazing management strategies on animal performance and grass utilisation
• Assessing the value of clover on commercial farms
• Examining blanketed and targeted fertiliser regimes in rotational grazing systems.

Current project partners are:

  • CIEL
  • AFBI
  • Rothamsted Research
  • AHDB
  • HCC
  • QMS
  • Germinal
  • Datamars Livestock
  • Morrisons
  • Sciantec
  • Handley Enterprises
  • Yara

New sponsors are welcome to join GrassCheckGB. For more information, please contact [email protected].

Project Background

GrassCheckGB is helping farmers to improve both grass growth and utilisation by providing weekly updates on grass growth, grass quality and weather conditions from 50 locations across Great Britain. All GrassCheckGB project farms are operating rotational grazing systems and aim to maximize their production from grass to keep down the costs of bought-in feed. Farmers across the GrassCheckGB monitoring network measure their grazing platform on a weekly basis throughout the grazing season. Grass measurements are fed into an online management platform along with stock numbers, milk/meat sales and details of meal and silage fed.

Every fortnight each farm submits grass samples for analysis. This is done on a rotating basis with half the farms submitting samples one week and the other half submitting on the following week.

The data informs a weekly bulletin during the growing season which highlights key regional findings, offers grassland management guidance, and predictions of future growth patterns. The GrassCheckGB bulletin is freely available online for all producers throughout the growing season at and via twitter @Grasscheckgb.

“It’s well known that grazed grass is the cheapest feed available to any farmer. As part of a large farm network we can gauge grass availability, livestock performance and feed value of well-managed grassland.” Robert Fleming, Castle Sinniness, GrassCheckGB farmer

Review of the 2022 Grazing Season

Review of the 2021 Grazing Season

Review of the 2020 Grazing Season

Review of the 2019 Grazing Season

GrassCheckGB Farmers on Grassland | CIEL
Grass Growth Curve 3 Years | GrassCheckGB