A DAIRY farmer from Corsley, near Warminster, is a south west regional winner and runner-up in a national grassland management competition.

David Helliar, of High House Farm, was one of three farmers to make it to the final round of the British Grassland Society’s National Grassland Management Competition, sponsored by GrowHow UK and DLF-Trifolium.

Mr Helliar farms 450 tenanted acres of variable loam soils in a good grass growing area.

Half the land is down to long term leys, with the balance made up of Italian/hybrid ryegrass and red clover leys for silage, wheat for silage and crimping, plus 120 acres of maize.

The farm carries 320 commercial Holsteins, averaging 8,250 litres, and 150 youngstock.

The autumn-calving herd is paddock grazed in two groups.

Head judge for the national competition, farmer Richard Ratcliffe said: “David runs his business extremely well and profitably.

“He is always looking for new techniques and ideas to further improve things.”

Techniques which impressed judges included solving the problem of having Italian, hybrid and perennial ryegrasses in different silage fields which ideally he wanted to cut at the same time using a contractor, despite different stages of maturity.

“David layers the three crops in the clamp with the Italian leys at the bottom, followed by hybrids, then the perennials on top,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“This means the high fibre lower layers are fed in small quantities each day and eliminates the need to add straw to rations.”