Sustainable grassland and forage production

  • De Vliegher, Alex (Former Project Manager)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    This research focuses on the search for the optimal grassland management (crop husbandry and kind of crop) to achieve the perfect combination of favourable agricultural production, limited environmental impact (water, soil, air) and limited impact on the surroundings (co-existence). We focus on techniques limiting the residual nitrate in the soil in combination with optimal production and quality. Which kind of management gives better persistence of the grass sward and lower frequency of grassland renovation (economic and ecological benefits)? What are the advantages of the introduction of forage legumes and grass species besides perennial ryegrass?

    Research approach
    We execute field trials with grass and possibly other species and vary the grassland management as described in the research topics. We register (1) yield and forage quality of grass/clover with low N fertiliser input; (2) the quantitative and qualitative effect of cutting or grazing after the September 1; (3) effect of grassland overseeding; (4) value for agricultural use of tall fescue and Festulolium in grass/clover mixtures; (5) the potential of rye as an alternative crop for Italian ryegrass in combination with maize; and (6) maize in monoculture or in rotation with other forage crops as biomass producers for (co-) digestion.   


    This research focuses on new candidate scenarios in legislation and on new developments and tendencies in the production of forage crops and green energy. The project pays attention to the combination of a reasonable production and a reduced impact on environment (soil, water, air) and neighbourhood (co-existence). There is a strong relationship between grassland management and persistence of the grass sward and frequency of grassland renovation. Less frequent renovation of grassland favours both economy and ecology. Introduction of legumes results in a lower N-input by chemical fertilisers but requires an adaptation of the crop management. Housing the dairy cattle inside year-round and consequently, a 100% cutting regime of the grassland, can be an opportunity for grass species other than ryegrasses.
    Effective start/end date30/03/1031/12/17