“In the 21st century, grass will be the basis for the production of all the food in the world,” said Dr Martin Scholten during the European Forage Relation Day. In the context of its 110th anniversary, Barenbrug treated its business relations to a forage seminar under the heading of “Up to 20% more milk per hectare with top genetics”. Guest speakers at this event were Dr. Martin C. Th. Scholten, Director of the Animal Science Group, and Stefan Duerr, owner of Europe’s largest dairy farm. Piet Arts and Rien Louwes from Barenbrug presented their company’s latest genetics and innovations for dairy farming.
Grass, the basis for food for the growing world population
Responsible use of the available land and scarce resources calls for greater efficiency in the production of meat and dairy products, said Dr Scholten. To feed the growing world population, we will have to produce twice as much food of higher quality using half the nutrients. In the 21st century, grass will be the basis for the production of food. Grass has a high feed value, is an efficient, robust crop with high biodiversity, fixes CO2 and has a short nutrient cycle on farms. According to Dr Scholten, improving grassland is a matter of cooperation and intensive exchange of knowhow between governments, agricultural and other industries, and universities. The Netherlands is in this respect an example to the rest of the world, said Scholten.
Good forage, the basis for high-quality food
With his dairy farm Eko Niva, Stefan Duerr contributes towards the production of food for the growing world population. The dairy farm with 50,000 head of cattle, a workforce of 3,500 and 196,000 hectares of land owes its success to innovations, the use of the latest technology and good management. “Having spent many years focusing on high-quality forage, we are now able to produce good quality, affordable food for the Russian population,” concluded Duerr.
Innovations with new genetics
The aims of Barenbrug’s grass innovations are to increase productivity and ensure responsible use of nutrients. “With our new grass varieties we are achieving increases in productivity of 0.5% per year,” said Piet Arts, a breeder at Barenbrug Research. That’s a slow increase in comparison with hybrid crops such as maize and cereals. New technology will ensure faster progress in grass-breeding efforts over the next twenty years.
Cattle farmers are the focus of our efforts
Developing local solutions with reliable products is the key to successful entrepreneurship, according to Rien Louwes, Product Manager for Forage. “Cattle farmers are always the focus of our efforts, and the transfer of expertise is crucial in this context,” Louwes explained.