Research project Grassland use in a changing climate

In progress KLIMGRAS
Lolium perenne and Trifolium pratense

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Main research question

The aim of this project (VLAIO LA-trajectory KLIMGRAS) is to make grassland use more sustainable for the dairy farmer in a changing climate. The goals is to make the use of more persistent and drought-tolerant grasses (tall fescue, perennial ryegrass and Festulolium), whether or not in combination with clover, more feasible and to incorporate these in Flemish dairy rations. Sustainable grassland exploitation aims not only at climate adaptation, but also at climate mitigation through soil carbon storage or conservation, by limiting N-fertilisation and by striving for a high level of digestibility.

Research approach

Yield trials of various drought-tolerant grasses are carried out under controlled conditions using rain caps. We investigate the difference in uptake and animal performance between the selected grasses under grazing and after ensilage. Through zootechnical trials with optimal grass-based rations (with clover), the production parameters are investigated. At the same time, grass/clover fields are laid out and monitored on practical farms with different soil and farm types. Finally, the economic effect and the ecological footprint are determined.

Relevance/Valorization

Climate change in Flanders is already resulting in reduced roughage yield and quality, which is having an effect on milk production. The KLIMGRAS project knowledge will be passed on to the dairy farmers via various tools. The economic impact of the project lies mainly in the fact that the drought-resistance strategies will allow the dairy farmer to continue to produce milk optimally under a variety of climatic conditions at no significant additional cost. The social importance of these strategies is that both climate adaptation and climate mitigation can be achieved. The project will lead to more stable and eco-efficient grassland production with a broadening of grassland ecosystem services (C-storage and water storage capacity).