HC Deb 25 February 1975 vol 887 cc73-5W
Mr. Torney

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on the work of his Department's Agricultural Development and Advisory Service to encourage greater efficiency in the production, conservation and utilisation of grass.

Mr. Peart

I have now received advice on this subject from my Advisory Council for Agriculture and Horticulture and from the Department's Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS).

The council has advised that the important contribution already being made by ADAS in this sector could be taken

set out in his answer of 5th February [c. 522,] giving a breakdown between the numbers for England and Wales, respectively, and between hill and marginal land, and other land.

Mr. Strang

The available information is as followsAnalysis of farms by tenure and acreage size groups relating to June 1973 for England and Wales separately (information relating to hill land, marginal land or other land not available from census data):

still further through a national, co-ordinated campaign to publicise the benefits of grass. In the council's view, it should particularly be directed at the smaller farms, where most of our grassland is concentrated, and at the continuing need to put over to farmers the techniques of good silage-making and new developments in hay-making, especially cheap barn hay-drying.

The council has said that the campaign should also emphasise the need for the maintenance and improvement of field drainage and the value of regular forage analysis, and it should encourage the continued optimum use of nitrogen, which even at present prices can show good returns, and the maximum use of organic residues in view of the present high prices for fertilisers. The council stressed the need for advice to be supported by accurate and up-to-date data on likely costs and returns, to be linked with techniques and practices that are cheap and simple to adopt, to be largely directed to on-farm situations and to make special use of farm demonstrations and arresting advisory publications.

The council has also advocated the production of forage maize, especially on small and medium-sized farms, through machinery syndicates and private contractors. ADAS is intensifying its work along these lines. Such a campaign will need to extend over a number of years. Its success will depend very much on the co-operation of other interested organisations. During the coming year the emphasis will be particularly on improved conservation techniques with the aim of encouraging farmers to adopt known and proven technology which gives better results than the generality of farming practice in this sector. Farmers' experiences during the last year have once again underlined the benefits to be derived from good grassland management and from effective grass conservation techniques, especially silage-making.

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