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Grass and the Nation's Food Supply

Nature volume 140, page 456 (11 September 1937) | Download Citation



DR. R. E. SHADE'S evening discourse at the British Association, delivered on September 3, came well within the category of scientific contributions bearing upon social welfare, for it demonstrated the physical possibility of greatly increasing the nation's home-grown food supply, and incidentally of improving soil fertility and of helping to put the much-suffering farmer upon his financial feet. A conspicuous feature of recent agricultural progress has been the recognition of grass as a crop, and how by good management and the use of scientific methods of grass conservation, the productivity of pastures can be immensely increased. 'Early researches on grass as a food for stock were largely confined to hay, and though this form of 'bottled sunshine' is unlikely ever to disappear, the nutrients in grass can be best conserved either as ensilage or as artificially dried grass. No system of cultivating grassland can be adequate unless it takes cognizance of the reaction between the pasture herbage and the grazing animal, for by controlling the time and intensity of grazing or cutting, by judicious manuring, and by timely cultivations, a succession of palatable and nutritious herbage can be maintained throughout the grazing season, and this season can be extended at both ends, that is, in spring and in autumn. The re-discovery by Prof. T. B. Wood and Dr. H. E. Woodman of the high feeding value of leafy, young grass, and the breeding of leafy and highly nutritious strains of indigenous grasses by Prof. R. G. Stapledon and his co-workers at Aberystwyth, have opened up a vista of great possibilities for home agriculture and national food supply.

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