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Content archived on 2024-04-30



The objective of the project is to provide the technical basis for economically efficient but less intensive animal production for northern EU countries based on the use of forage legumes for silage. Such systems although with potential to have low inputs of fertilisers and concentrate feeds, have had little impact to the present because of poor productivity and persistence of the varieties and species available, the lack of integrated studies on legume production and utilisation and the ready availability of cheap nitrogenous fertilisers. This project will investigate the use in northern EU countries of novel plant materials within the genera Galega, Lotus, Medicago and Trifolium which have high promise of overcoming the disadvantages of existing materials. In addition to contributing information in relation to less intensive animal production systems, the use of forage legumes has the potential to better protect the environment through reduction in N losses. Furthermore, legumes are the cornerstone of efficient organic farming systems.
The project will involve integrated investigations in four countries and address the following Tasks: (i) To obtain information on productivity and nutritive quality of a range of forage legumes grown conventionally and in organic systems. (ii) To ascertain losses of nitrate through leaching from growing a range of forage legumes. (iii) To establish reliable techniques for the successful preservation of forage legumes through ensiling. (iv) To ascertain animal responses and N balances with contrasting legume silages in relation to grass silage, particularly for milk production. (v) To assess the economic and environmental impact of using forage legumes for animal production in northern Europe.
The project overall will establish the contribution that forage legumes, specifically and generally, can make to economically and environmentally sustainable animal production in the northern EU. One of the main outputs from the project will be a Technical Report targeted to extension workers and consultants which outlines major project conclusions and provides advice on land use and animal production based on forage legumes for silage.

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BBSRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research
EU contribution
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North Wyke Research Station
EX20 2SB Okehampton
United Kingdom

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Participants (3)