DLF have been committed to developing new varieties of grass in the UK for 40 years in both forage and amenity since setting up our R & D station in the Cotswolds in 1976. The facility has gone from strength to strength over this period of time, being at the cutting edge of technology as well as a centre of excellence for the trialling and evaluation of grasses for the UK.
We were the first to introduce self-propelled harvesting machines into the UK for measuring yield of the forage trials to enable us to test more varieties, as previously forage grass was all cut and weighed by hand.
DLF were the first to introduce on board near infra-red spectroscopy (NIRS) for the measurement of dry matter (DM) and quality characters on fresh samples as they are being harvested. We have never shied away from investing in the future of varieties for the UK and we are now looking to the future potential use of drones equipped with specialised sensors to measure yield, DM and quality characters in forage and colour and appearance in turf.
All DLF mixtures are fully tested and evaluated by us to ensure that varieties are included in appropriate proportions to give optimal mixture performance in the field, on the pitch, on the course or in the garden.
The UK forage grass testing and breeding programme at DLF is geared specifically to identifying varieties for the UK farmer, as their requirements are quite different to farmers in other parts of Europe due to the climatic conditions. The UK climate is very suited to growing grass with potential for very high yields and therefore we aim to produce varieties that will make the most of these conditions and maximise forage output under farm conditions.
The UK breeding programme is linked into our global network of testing sites which enables us to test varieties extensively across many different growing environments and conditions to ensure the varieties that we bring to market are able to cope with all that the UK climate can throw at them.
The UK traditionally grows some of the best pitches and courses in the world and we produce the best green keepers that are respected globally for their expertise and skill. DLF appreciate the high standards that UK green keepers demand and therefore aim to produce the best varieties to satisfy the very high standards that they expect.
DLF test amenity varieties in the UK as part of our Europe wide breeding and testing programme. Varieties are evaluated over five sites across Europe representing a broad spectrum of climatic conditions to ensure our varieties will perform to the highest standards even when conditions become difficult. Varieties are also selected to fit very differing management conditions from the back lawn of domestic houses that are used with minimal inputs by families and pets to the high end users who require the very high standards to produce award winning pitches and courses of premiership football clubs and championship golf clubs.
In addition to our trialling and breeding work on grass we test and develop environmental and game cover crops and mixtures that are available through our “Your countryside” range. Over many years we have been growing plots that have enabled us to build a great deal of experience and knowledge with regard to how to get the best out of different species and mixtures. We pass on this information through our knowledgeable staff and our “Your countryside” catalogue.