Project code: D-22-04

Duration 3 years

Team and Leader  Drs Peter Barrett, Scott Laidlaw, Sinclair Mayne and Mr Nigel Moore

Organisations involved ARINI, Plant testing station, Crossnacreevy and CAFRE

Background and Summary

With current reductions in milk price, increased reliance on grazed grass offers one of the few opportunities to reduce production costs. However, in order to utilize grass successfully, frequent decision making is required in order to accomodate fluctuations in grass growth, both within and between seasons. Grass Check (Mark 1), which ran during 1999 - 2001, provided an extremely useful grass growth monitor to dairy farmers throughout Northern Ireland. 

The objective of this project is to provide a further 3 years of grass growth and quality monitoring, and in addition to provide a grass growth forecast service based on a predictive model and checked against field data, to assist in decision making in grazing management.


1. Initiate project 1st February 2004
2. Adapted grass growth model for grazing conditions - March 2004
3. Commence monitoring of grass growth and quality on cut swards ARINI and on three dairy farms across Northern Ireland (to validate growth model under cutting and grazing and adjust predicyion when necessary) - 1st April 2004
4. Publish grass growth rates, predicted growth and details of grass quality every week in the local farming press - late March to November 2004
5. Develop grass growth model to take account of geographical variation (soil types mainly) - January 2005
6. Repeat as for point 4 in 2005 and 2006 growing seasons but select farms to reflect soil type differences.
7. Collate data from 3 years of grazing records and publish overall summary - 31st January 2007


1. By aiding decision making on grassland management, confidence in and utilisation of grazed grass will be increased, enabling lower cost milk production.
2. Rapid feedback of information to farmers and high profile for research undertaken with results published weekly throughout the season.
For more information on Grass Check 2 please click on the link on the right hand side of page.

The final report on this project can be found here.

FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (GrasscheckII.pdf)Grasscheck 2Monitoring and prediction of grass growth in Northern Ireland- Grass Check 2 - D-22-04 277 kB