Grassland Systems

Distance learning starts September 2017

This module has been awarded Dairy Pro points.


This module looks at the range and distribution of grassland and forage crops. Nutrient management and environmental protection are themes throughout, as are strategies for grazing and forage preservation. The role of plant breeding and management is investigated. You will evaluate the management requirements of a range of grassland systems and the factors that underpin forage cropping programmes. The module’s content is significantly influenced by current research at IBERS and NIAB.

The module’s units consist of:

  • Range and distribution of grasslands—UK pastures and how the nature of pasture farming may change in the future.
  • Characteristics of forage species — the connections between both morphology and yearly growth patterns with forage quality; how NIRS can be used to assay this.
  • Grassland composition — pasture establishment; how management affects grassland composition.
  • Managing pests and diseases in a changing environment —how climate change may alter the pest and disease load on grasslands.
  • Soil quality and low input systems — linking soil health with pasture productivity; how the recommended listing process can be used for low input systems.
  • Grazing – overview of grazing options; flushing in sheep; the use of technology for pasture management.
  • Forage breeding—a detailed look at IBERS’ forage breeding programmes and future prospects.
  • Forage preservation and bio-refining —the production of hay and silage from pastures; the prospect of using forage in bio-refining.
  • Ruminant Nutrition – associating pasture quality with animal nutrition; reducing green-house gas emissions; altering fat composition in grazing cattle.
  • Grassland Systems —upland grazing systems; how lifecycle assessment is used to assess pasture based systems.

Contributing Researchers: Dr Iwan Owen, Dr Gareth Burns, Dr Jane Thomas, Dr John Warren, Dr Mariecia Fraser, Dr David Styles, Rhun Fychan, Prof Chris Pollock, Prof Mike Christie, Phil Humphrey, Dr Michael O’Donovan, Alan Lovatt, Dr David Lloyd, Dr John Corton, Dr Eli Saetnan, Prof Jamie Newbold and Prof Michael Abberton.

Student Comment: " was interesting to learn that non-sown species of grass can be more productive than perennial ryegrass at low/moderate N applications"   Damien McAllister

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