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Growing ideas: UGS launch Grassland Innovation Awards for 2020

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Lights, Camera, Action! This year the Ulster Grassland Society are looking for unique ideas in grassland and farm management as they launch the 2020 Grassland Innovation Awards competition.

These awards, sponsored by Danske Bank, seek to celebrate all things innovation by capturing the on-farm inventions and ideas that are helping local farmers be more progressive and efficient.

It was fitting that the launch of the Awards took place last week at the Ferguson Memorial Garden, Hillsborough with Harry Ferguson surely the pioneer of agricultural innovation in Northern Ireland.

Applications for the competition take the form of a short video and the scope of the competition allows for a wide range of ideas to be submitted. From novel devices for grazing infrastructure, to different ways of managing grazing or establishing swards, to new methods for monitoring animal performance, all entries will be welcomed by the judging panel.

“Every year our series of farm walks and UGS Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition showcases some brilliant new inventions and out of the box thinking. Through these awards we want to shine a spotlight on that innovation and show how progressive our livestock farms in Northern Ireland are” comments UGS President Charlie Kilpatrick.

“Innovation can be a new piece of equipment but equally it can involve taking existing methods or knowledge and applying them in a different way. What is important is that it’s unique and has a positive benefit to the farm” he continues.

Awards are available for innovations in: grazing management, silage management, sward management, livestock husbandry and overall farm management. These awards replace the 2020 UGS Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition which was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID pandemic but will hopefully resume in 2021. The Innovation competition is open to members and non-members with the awards presented at the UGS Annual Conference next January.

Rodney Brown, Head of Agribusiness at Danske Bank said: “We are delighted to continue our relationship with the Ulster Grassland Society and welcome the move to develop a new platform so that farmers can showcase their animal husbandry and share farm innovation. This will enable collaboration across farms, promote best practices and share new innovative ways to improve both performance and utilisation of our greatest natural resource. We encourage wide participation in all categories and wish all entrants the best of luck.”

To enter the awards, applicants are required to submit a short video of no more than 5 minutes in length. Each application must provide details of the following:

– A description of the innovation and how it works
– How the idea came about
– The process of turning the idea into reality
– What the benefits have been.

Additional supporting information (e.g. photographs, text) can be supplied via email. Entries will be scored for uniqueness, the process of making the innovation happen and the overall benefit to the business. All entries should be sent to [email protected] or via WhatsApp to 07920037910. The deadline for entries is 30 September 2020. For more information on the competition please contact: [email protected]

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