Over the last two years, Teagasc has been collecting weekly grass growth and quality data from over 50 farms participating in its PastureBase.
This is valuable information as it is coming from real-life commercial farms, as opposed to the controlled trial plots that the Department of Agriculture uses to assess differences between varieties. But, Department data is also a key part of the index, and its analysis is changing to reflect the increased importance of extended grazing seasons. For this reason, 'frequent cutting protocols' that look to replicate regular grazings of 6-7 per year are now a standard part of the department's trials.
The PastureBase data also provides a valuable snapshot of the huge variation in grass production between farms, regions and different years.