I have seen some amazing grass this year – on farms, in gardens, in the countryside and in one of the temples of British sport!
Here is a snapshot of some of these wonderful grassy places and events…
Back in January seed heads of Miscanthus Sinensis Gnome were looking good in my back garden!
You can’t get better hay than this! East Sussex contractor Dan Knight makes more than 10,000 bales of this bright, clean hay on rented permanent pasture and rotational grassland around Ringmer. I visited Dan on April Fool’s Day when the grass growth was already getting into its stride.
The 2014 Nuffield Dairy Scholar Study Group tour visited some of the best grassland farmers in the UK in Cumbria. This fine cow was one of Richard Park’s 170 autumn calvers, near Kendal. They were happily sharing their perennial ryegrass pasture (with added chicory) with a flock of free-range chickens.
The BEACON Bio-Refinery Centre of Excellence at Aberystwyth University is helping Welsh businesses develop new ways of turning the juice of crops such as perennial ryegrass into exciting and useful new products – including pharmaceuticals, fuel and natural cosmetics. Fermented grass juice doesn’t smell too good though!
A revolutionary grass monitor that can be mounted onto a wellie boot and measures grass height via ultrasound sensors, caused great excitement when launched at the Grassland & Muck event in May.
There was much to discuss on the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association’s study tour to Nottinghamshire – not least this young herbal ley grown for silage which will provide winter feed for dairy cows and youngstock.
Water meadow grasses in full bloom in mid June at the bottom of my lane. Suckler cows and calves enjoyed eating this down a few weeks later.
Grass-court perfection at Wimbledon.
Patchwork of rough, unimproved and improved grazing from the top of Wellheads in Aberdeenshire – farmed by John Gordons with cattle and sheep. This view was a highlight of this year’s British Grassland Society’s Summer Meeting in Scotland.
A unique half-hectare of grass at Therfield Heath not ploughed since the 1930s, packed full of magical plants and teeming with insects and butterflies.
Grasses, grasses everywhere – these beauties doing their thing in the car park of my vet!
The ‘Putting Grasslands to Work’ conference in London hosted by The Savory Institute in August was mind-blowing in the breadth and depth of its thought, words and deeds. Not least the incredible ‘living minutes’ that were created by artists drawing as the speakers gave their presentations. This one was part of a session looking at the importance of soil for growing good grass.
Drying grasses mingle with purple heather at Zennor Head, West Cornwall in August.
The beginning of September brought 350 grassland scientists to Aberystwyth University for the European Grassland Federation meeting to discuss the Future of European Grasslands. Grassland type and use varies widely from Iceland to the Mediterranean countries – and yes it most certainly does have a future in many different ways…
Even in the dry old east of England, farmer Ben Walker manages to produce excellent grass for his herd of dairy cows.
It was an honour to meet Mary Mead’s dairy cows at Holt Farms in Somerset. As co-founder of the Yeo Valley brand of dairy products, Mrs. Mead and her family have been at the forefront of producing high quality food from grass for many years, and for many more to come.
Happy beef cattle at the North Wyke Farm Platform research facility in North Devon…
…where research is being carried out into sustainable and environmentally sensitive food and farming systems for the future.
Who needs flowers when you can have grasses – shown to incredible effect in Neil Lucas’ garden – he one of the UK’s leading experts in ornamental grasses.
A very different use of grass in an ornamental setting – islands of perennial ryegrass like emerald jewels offset Piet Oudolf’s perennial planting at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in Somerset. Irresistible.No – not something out of Dr Who! This is the top of the biggest grass seed mixing plant in the UK which opened just outside Edinburgh in November. Designed and built by international grass seed company DLF Trifolium, it will mix and bag more than half the grass seed grown by UK farmers next year to produce high quality feed for their cattle and sheep.
Marram grass – so vital for stabilising sand dunes during the winter storms, looking colourful in Cornwall in December.