Grassland Management improves Soil Health and Plant Diversity

Source: Farmers Weekly, 19th Oct 2020: How soil focus avoids supplementary feeding on Welsh farm

Geraint Powell, situated near Hay-on-Wye, manages his Welsh livestock using a grazing system dictated by a strict pasture recovery. This system is building soil organic matter and increasing plant diversity, enabling him to produce lamb from grass only.

Central to Mr Powell’s system is allowing pasture to full recovery before grazing the area again. Short grazing period followed by longer rest time gives plants and roots opportunity to develop, with leaf area increasing and soil organic matter building up, as a result of dead plant material at the base of swards.

Plant diversity has also increased since the introduction of this system, with species such a yarrow, birds foot trefoil, native red clover and cocksfoot coming back from the natural seed bank. The growth of these different plant species  has increased his grassland resilience to extreme weathers and as a result has improved soil health and soil structure.

Plant diversity and soil health are closely linked and support each other. ‘Mr Powell suggests that the key to healthy soil is to have a diversity of plants catching sunlight and pumping carbon into it.’

The re-introduction of diverse swards and a farm system with short and intense grazing followed by long recovery periods evidently brings benefits to the soils, plants and livestock. At the same time, the farm system becomes more sustainable and requires fewer inputs.

To view the full article visit the Farmers Weekly: How soil focus avoids supplementary feeding on Welsh farm