Friday, 24 February 2012

SmartGrass – innovation in grassland production

Livestock farmers can now look forward to enhancing the growth rate of their grass, leading to higher productivity and an earlier turn out, following the recent Approval by CRD for SmartGrass, a novel spray product that has been shown to enhance the natural growth of grassland.

Barrie Hunt of Interfarm explains that SmartGrass, which contains gibberellic acid, has been proven to enhance the growth rate of grass in the early spring, enabling earlier use for either grazing or silage by the farmer.  “The Approval will enable the application of a completely novel product SmartGrass to enhance or accelerate growth of established rotational and permanent agricultural grassland. It will increase the growth rate of grass, enabling the earlier use of grassland for grazing or for cutting for hay or silage production.  By the simple act of advancing the timing of the 1st cut, this should naturally bring the whole growth season forward, allowing earlier grazing or advancing the timing of the subsequent cuts.  It will also help with planning feedstuffs at turnout and reducing the need for supplementary feed.”

Barrie explains that, when applied to grass in the early spring, SmartGrass works by supplementing natural growth promoting plant hormones. It stimulates plant cell expansion and increases cell number, which results in rapid foliar growth.  “Normally the spray window is around the end of March to mid April. SmartGrass increases the dry matter productivity of the pasture or sward, whilst maintaining quality of feed. In one set of trials in Devon, SmartGrass increased dry matter yield by 38%. The effect is at its peak around 4 weeks after application and the benefit lasts about 6 weeks. If you are looking to graze the grass, you will probably look to use the grass after 3 or 4 weeks.”
To get the best from SmartGrass, timing is key. Optimum results are likely when SmartGrass is applied at or just before the period of rapid spring growth of grass has started, which is normally after mid-March. This is also when day length and temperatures are increasing, thereby creating conditions suitable to encourage early season growth. The pasture should be moist, fertile and the air temperature warming and likely to remain so for the following 7 days. It is more effective when the temperature is 10ºC.

Avoid using SmartGrass if crops are suffering drought, pest or disease, low fertility or other stress factors that may reduce potential growth. It is advisable to keep livestock out of treated areas for at least 2 weeks to allow the grass to respond to treatment. SmartGrass is applied through conventional spray application. 

Barrie Hunt reports that SmartGrass is a product that has been developed by Valent BioSciences Corporation, which is also part of Sumitomo Chemical Company. “It has already been used successfully in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Chile and its UK approval follows three years development work across UK and relevant European countries.”

SmartGrass contains 400g/kg gibberellic acid (GA3) formulated as a water soluble granule and packed in a 20g sachet. It is a systemic natural plant growth regulator for use in fertile grassland used for grazing, hay or silage. It is applied at a dose rate of 20 g/ha in 200-400 litres of water and at a medium spray quality in the early spring at the start of growth, during a warm period with temperatures greater than 5º C before the end of April. It should be applied on its own. One application can be applied per crop and the latest time of application is the 1st May. SmartGrass has no LERAP, but care is needed to avoid drift onto adjacent crops. It is rainfast within 2 hours.

For further comment and information, please contact Barrie Hunt, Marketing Manager, Interfarm UK Ltd. on 01354 741414 or 07787 418098 (mobile) or via e-mail barrie.hunt@interfarm.co.uk