This leads us to POINT 1 of our notes wetness in the grasslands. To go to all our notes on wetness follow the arrow. 

This is particularly interesting for me for multiple reasons. Firstly because it goes against a prejudice I have heard amongst other local actors according to which farmers are not interested in experimenting and would like things to continue being the same as always. Secondly because it shows how the drought opens a space for experimentation both on the farm and in collaboration with research centres. This is echoed in what a former farmer’s union employee explains to me:

“In Flanders we are quite unique I think because we have practical research centres, like ILVO. These are centres that do research, that also compare crop races to each other, who compare agricultural practices to each other, and they of course work on drought, and on the yields.  They provide knowledge and then of course you also have the commercial partners which also do some research, like the ones delivering seeds, the ones multiplying seeds, they also they do research on races. And of course, we have many communication tools, we have a weekly member magazine there are many different magazines”. (June 2022)

One response to the drought has therefore been to experiment with types of crops, including grass, as this farmer explains to me:

“I stopped with corn because this soil and this region with the drought periods I don't think it's suitable for corn. So it's all grass. But what we see now is that even the grass is suffering from drought. I experimented with some grass pieces that are rooting deeper, but even those species had difficulties” (December 2022).

“These roots haven’t had time to grow enough”

As I walk with K, a farmer, in early May 2022 to bring back the cows in the evening, he is looking at the meadow with concern and explains to me that the problem is that they grass hasn’t been able to grow much because it was sown too late. It was sown in October, because they had to wait to harvest the corn before they could sow it. The grass therefore has not been able to grow the kind of long roots that it will need to face a potential forthcoming drought. This bothers him because, he says, its too dry at the moment.

To find other leads that can help us understand the drought and observe wetness in the dairy grasslands, click here!  

Grass vs Corn?