Bar Tech December 2020

As we come to the end of this most challenging of years, we reflect on how farmers have fared. Not only did they have to cope with the effects of the global pandemic on their businesses, their families and their mental health, they also had to navigate extremes of weather and unseasonal temperatures. And, at the same time, they had to prepare - as far as they were able - for life outside the EU. 


The past year has, at least, taught us all to adapt and become more resilient. As the landmark Agriculture Bill moves farmers away from the Common Agricultural Policy and the Basic Payment Scheme, and directs them via a seven-year transition to new forms of support, these skills will stand them in good stead as they adjust to a new way of farming. 

Our top tips - get ahead of the game.

Start your grassland plan for 2021 now by identifying which fields are requiring action in the spring.

Our top tips - monitor.

As ground conditions continue to deteriorate, carefully monitor any summer reseeds which are being grazed.

England & Wales

I’m not the first and I’m sure I won’t be the last to say what a year 2020 has been. No two years are the same in farming and whilst we all thought the drought of 2018 followed by  the high rainfall and floods of 2019 had been slightly tricky, 2020 seemed to pull out all the stops. That said, reseeding has been up by about 15-20% overall as farmers continue to invest in and see the value of home-produced forage from the increased farm business efficiencies it returns. The early spring gave a chance to catch up on the previous Autumns field work and grass growth started ahead of 2019 producing some fantastic first cuts. Dry weather came in May & June and consequently restricted regrowth for 2nd cuts and on the grazing platform. Steady showers towards the end of June lifted soil moisture levels and grass growth rose above average. Third and fourth cut silage yields were good all though the quality was variable. I think the use of the right additive and attention to detail with clamping will certainly pay dividends this year. The weather was kind through August and September enabling autumn reseeding to be carried out in near perfect conditions. Fortunately farm gate prices remained stable through the year and the forecast into the new year looks bouyant.


Our Grass Into Gold farmers, the Shepherd Family reseeded using our Barforage Combi, and Hybrid 4x4 mixtures last Autumn. The first cuts were taken in May and gave exceptional yields. The density and thickness of the sward was really noticeable. When the clamp was sampled the silage analysis came back with very high quality.



Following the wet autumn of 2019, we have seen the acreage of grass cover crops established AFTER MAIZE and in maize increase as awareness of soil stabilisation to prevent soil erosion and nutrient leaching rises. In trials our own products outperformed others and we will be looking at this again in 2021... watch this space!


Sustainability, carbon capture and soil health have all been headline topics both in the farming press and online forums. We have seen an elevated interest in multi-species swards and herbal leys linked in with regenerative agriculture areas that are set to gain more momentum as the support mechanism shifts to ELMs this isn’t restricted to livestock farming either as arable farmers look more and more at sustainability, soil health and non-inversion tillage methods of crop production using cover crops, strip tillage with small leaved clovers planted between rows of crops.


Four fantastic new varieties produced from the Barenbrug-AFBI grass breeding programme have made it onto the Recommended Grass and Clover list this year and we are really excited about Galgorm, the class leading intermediate diploid perennial. With our breeding partner AFBI we have some exceptional Barenbrug UK bred grass varieties in the pipeline over the coming years.


One of the biggest things I think to affect us all this year has been the cancellation of agricultural shows and industry events, the places which enable us all to meet face to face, exchange ideas, offer advice, showcase our latest products and keep in touch. And I’ve certainly missed the banter of a show day. Whilst we have had to embrace technology to stay in touch, you still can’t beat getting out in a field of crop to see what’s really going on.


2020 as taught us to be adaptive to the unknown and as we head into 2021 there are uncertain and changing times ahead, being adaptive to these will help make the most of  opportunities as they present themselves with positive outcomes.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2021.



Well, I am going to try not to use the “C Word”, after the poor autumn of 2019 we had a glorious spring of 2020 and a significant amount of reseeds, that should have been done the Autumn before, managed to go in the ground. The dry conditions did make for a challenging time for some new reseeds but thankfully the rain in mid-may saved most of them. With it being so dry in the spring it has made for some interesting 1st cut silage with average proteins but lower than normal energy levels, making for some interesting work for your nutrionists. 


What an autumn we have had, some of the best reseed conditions I think I have ever seen, it is still mild as I write this but the cold weather will soon set-in which will slow the winter growth down a bit. I have to congratulate the entire Barenbrug UK team for the adaptions that have had to be made this year and the continued great customer service that we all pride ourselves on.




Northern Ireland

2020 has been a strange year in Northern Ireland with a record dry Spring, an averagely damp Summer and a hopelessly wet Autumn, and that’s before we even mention Covid! However, farm stock prices have held firm and thankfully grass growth kept going throughout the year. There has been plenty of re-seeding done this year with the majority of farmers taking advantage of the excellent spell of weather at the start of the year. One particular farmer on the outskirts of Belfast reseeded ground with a blend of Barenbrug-AFBI bred varieties at the end of April. On the 7th June, the first cut was removed for zero grazing and the sward was simply outstanding.



Another success local story is father and son team David & Adam Parke from Tobermore who have been using BarForage Cut & Graze on their dairy farm for quite a few years now. With technical support via their local merchant Eric Drennan, they have successfully established Spring reseeds undersown with barley with the crop lifted as wholecrop for first cut and a second and third cut taken during the rest of the season. 



Both farmers have been very particular about their groundwork before even considering what seed mixture to use. Soils were tested, lime applied, ground prepared with particular effort to ensure a firm fine seedbed before sowing. All of these are essential for good sward establishment and will ensure the seed gets the best start possible. Find out more from about preparing your farm for grass with our Good Grass Management Guide.


As we leave 2020 and look forward to another farming season it is always great to look back on stories like these and realise that it wasn’t a bad year after all! Best wishes to all for a lovely Christmas.



Winter was very wet with some areas of Scotland receiving almost 50% of the annual rainfall in the first 2 months of the year but thankfully we were rewarded with a great spring of warmth and sunshine. Without the extremes of the 2018 drought conditions, farmers across the country invested in their businesses with reseeds, as is normal up here, predominately with perennial grass mixtures. Its been a great year for grass growth with many people having an abundance of silage and grazing stock fared well most of the year.


Frustratingly, as is often the case, the Scottish summer was ‘catchy’ at best with many periods of consecutive wet days interrupting both later silage cuts and harvest but in general, work is fairly well tidied up for the year at the time of writing this. Winter cereal sowings seem to be average so hopefully there will be good opportunities next summer for later reseeds, however, particularly in the higher rainfall areas, autumn reseeds continue to be difficult to rely on as is 3rd and 4th cut silage.


Environmental issues are a growing trend not only in terms of direct suppor; I’ve had numerous conversations with customers looking to make alterations to their reseeding practices to incorporate more environmentally beneficial aspects alongside their persistency and productivity demands.  The Barenbrug-AFBI partnership continues to breed fantastic new varieties of Ryegrass that perform well under the Scottish conditions and testing system and is backed up by some other species such as the new Timothy, Cocksfoot and Tall Fescue varieties from the Barenbrug breeding programmes in Northern Europe. Two new ryegrasses will feature in the Scotland Mixtures for 2021 as well as a new soft leaved cocksfoot.


I always try to be a positive person and 2020 saw me celebrate a decade of working for Barenbrug UK and whilst most things in agriculture come in cycles, nothing before has been like this year! Having reduced my car travel by around 20,000 miles, myself and the team have found new ways of communicating with our customers although the numerous platforms of communication have caused a certain amount of digital overwhelm at times! As someone who lives on their own – bar the collies of course! – the one thing I have probably missed the most this year is the face to face meeting with those in the industry who are not only customers but whom have become friends too. I consider myself very lucky to have worked throughout the year, to be working in agriculture and in a small way, to be helping to feed the nation. There are countless positives and opportunities that have come out of 2020, we have seen a greater shift to support local produce and local business and we have learned what and who is important in life! Who know what the next 12 – 18 months will bring for us in Scotland but in the words of the brilliant Resilient Farmer Doug Avery; “You win or you learn. You only lose if you don’t learn anything”. It’s our responsibility, each of us as individuals and organisations, to find the positives and focus on them and the path forward.


Wishing you all a brilliant rest of the year and hoping to see more of you in 2021!



Hamish Maclean, Hamish Maclean Farm Products, Orkney

Another year of growth (pardon the pun!) and we are now establishing a steady list of customers who have bought into the valuable information Mhairi brings to the table whilst appreciating the local input from myself. It has been a great growing year here without the excesses of last year which brought as many problems as it solved. There was some very poor quality silage due to restrictions by late cutting schemes.We had a few reseeds that were sowed alongside a major competitor and we came out the other side extremely well. We also now have a good name for longevity which has been a problem here in past days before Barenbrug arrived. This year has brought some extremely strange circumstances in trading conditions but I have altered completely and do so much more business by social media and telephone. It took a little bit of adjustment but is working away just fine. 


The reality of farming life struck home when one of our very regular clients tragically lost his life after a horrible farm accident and our sympathies go out to his lovely family. I guess at this stage we are unsure what form our sales drive will take in 2021 and if Mhairi is permitted to call with me throughout the Islands but we are ahead of the game and are furnishing customers old and new with critical information as I write this. So, lets look forward to 2021 with continued vigour and confidence in this industry!


Charlotte Baillie, Longlea Farm, Lanarkshire

2020 has been an interesting time and challenging to say the least!  As far as grass growth goes, due to a very wet winter, 1st cut was a bit disappointing. The quality was lacking and pits were not a full as hoped, however 2nd cut made up for quantity.  The silage pit has never been so full in all the 40 years it has been in operation although it is now proving a challenge keeping the face fresh and dealing with a bit of slippage.  Cows on the whole, are milking well off it but it does involve a fair bit of continuous monitoring and management to ensure rations are in tip top condition.


When it came to 3rd cut - we were unsure if we were going to manage to get any at all.  Weather from August onwards has been difficult, with a lot of rain and resulted in the cancellation of winter barley seed.  We cut less acres for 3rd cut to try and minimise any machinery damage to wetter fields.  We know from the bulk on 2nd cut we have plenty in stock for winter 20/21 feeding.  Always good to have a wee bit extra squirreled away in a pit as we never know how 2021 will pan out. In terms of reseeding, this year we sowed 50 acres after winter barley. We’ve taken the decision to increase our grass area to allow more yields from 1st and 2nd cut and reduce reliance on 3rd cut which is becoming more difficult to rely on with poor summer weather year on year. We have also been moving to reseeding after winter cereals (instead of spring) so that we can get the reseeds in earlier in the season and again, improve the chances of beating any inclement weather.


Overall, 2020 has been an interesting, difficult, and testing time.  However, we need to try and find some sort of silver lining to all of this chaos.  It has allowed us time to focus on our business with a lot less distractions from any social events going on; although no Highland show to distract us for a few days during June was one of the biggest disappointment for us all.  We must count ourselves lucky to live in rural surroundings to avoid the worst hit areas of the pandemic if only to have the free space and fresh air to enjoy which can be taken for granted on some days.


I am hoping that 2021 will bring new enthusiasm and fresh hope that we can at least spend time with family and friends and get to enjoy some belated birthday/wedding celebrations that we have missed out on this year.

Grass & Forage Ranges

Discover our range of grass & forage mixtures for the agriculture sector. Our premium agriculture grass seed range, contain the latest varieties and innovations from Barenbrug.

Discover our range of grass & forage mixtures for the agriculture sector. Our premium agriculture grass seed range, contain the latest varieties and innovations from Barenbrug.

Discover our range of grass & forage mixtures for the agriculture sector. Our premium agriculture grass seed range, contain the latest varieties and innovations from Barenbrug.