A new tool to help dairy farmers get even more from their grass is to be launched at the Moorepark open day in Cork tomorrow.
Called the Grass Calculator, the concept has been developed by Laurence Shalloo and Brian McCarthy as a way for farmers to calculate the amount of grass that is being converted into milk on their farm each year.
Mr Shalloo has focused on this measure because of the close correlation it holds with farm profitability.
He said: "44pc of the variation in profit per hectare between farms in 2008 was explained by the amount of grass used on the farm."
Further research shows that the top 10pc of dairy farms participating in Teagasc's National Farm Survey were achieving a massive net profit of more than €1,000/ac compared with the national average of less than €450/ac.
Again, there was a close correlation between farm profit and grass harvested per acre, with the top farms using nearly a tonne more grass dry matter per acre than the average farm.
Mr Shalloo's research also highlights the scope for even the best farmers to increase the amount of grass that they convert into milk, with Moorepark's Curtin's farm hitting grass usage rates of 4.6t DM/ac. This compares with 3.5t DM/ac for the top 10pc and 2.6t DM/ac for the average dairy farm.
The calculator uses accepted energy requirements for cows of a given liveweight and milk output to calculate feed requirements.
The energy supplied by supplements or meal feeding is then deducted from these requirements to arrive at the amount of energy that has been supplied by grass grown on the farm. This figure is convertible into actual kilogrammes of grass-using formulas developed by Teagasc's Frank O'Mara.
The calculator will be made available for all Teagasc clients to download free of charge from www.agresearch.teagasc.ie/moorepark from Wednesday. It will be demonstrated just after the environmental village at the open day in Moorepark tomorrow.