A west Wales farm is boosting its sustainability and reducing feed costs through a Farming Connect project.

Llyr Griffiths, from Tafarn y Bugail in Llangoedmor, Ceredigion aims to improve the farm’s sustainability and reduce reliance on purchased feed for his 500-cow dairy herd by companion cropping maize with sunflowers.

With the increasing cost of protein concentrate, Llyr was keen to try out an alternative home-grown protein crop for the high yielding herd to reduce feed costs and the farms carbon footprint and has done so through the support of the Farming Connect Try Out Fund.

The project aims to investigate the effectiveness of sunflowers as a companion crop as sunflowers offer a higher protein content than maize, potentially reducing the need for expensive bought-in protein sources like soya.

An open day will be held on the Llangoedmor farm in August (Supplied)

Additionally, Westerwolds ryegrass will be sown directly after the maize harvest to minimize soil erosion and provide high-quality winter feed and reducing reliance on purchased feed and potentially reducing overall feed costs.

The project started in May 2024 and will conclude in February 2025. Other project milestones include, monitoring crop growth, harvesting, analysing feed value, and evaluating the economic and environmental impact.

Llyr Griffiths said: "We are excited to embark on this innovative project and explore ways to enhance our farm's sustainability while potentially reducing feed costs. We believe this approach can benefit both our business and the environment."

Lawrence Couzens, the farm’s agronomist, added: "This project holds significant promise for Welsh dairy farmers. By growing a protein-rich companion crop and utilizing Westerwolds ryegrass, we can potentially create a more sustainable and cost-effective feed strategy."

Tafarn y Bugail is committed to sharing the project's findings with the wider agricultural community.

An open day will be held at Tafarn y Bugail on the 28tAugust where there will be an opportunity to learn more about how sunflowers can be used as a source of home-grown protein, if sunflowers can be grown successfully as a companion crop in West Wales and a chance to discuss management and harvesting techniques as well as see the crop before harvesting.