History of the Grassland Society

While the origins of the South West Scotland Grassland Society owed much to the inspiration and enthusiasm of grassland scientists and advisers back in 1962, its subsequent development and successes were largely etermined by the interest and enthusiastic support of the farmers of SW Scotland, with great encouragement from technical and commercial members.
The following excerpts from the 1962 and 1987 editions of ‘Greensward’ give an insight into the foundation and early days of the Society and highlight the aims and aspirations of its Founder Members. It will be seen that, even though 50 years have passed, these remain very much the same today.

This is how it all began ……..

At and immediately after the Winter Meeting of the British Grassland Society, 6-8 December 1961, Dr Castle and I V Hunt discussed the possibility of forming a Regional Grassland Society in the West of Scotland. From then until the 20th February discussions were held with Principal Hendrie, Dr J A B Smith and members of the County Advisory Service. The following conclusions resulted from these meetings. That i f there was to be a Grassland Society, it should be as a result of a need shown by farmers and that its direction should largely be by farmers.

The weather was not promising, especially for demonstrating the advantages of wilting grass before making hay or silage on what might well be a memorable day in the history of the agriculture of South West Scotland. Sixty to seventy farmers were expected. By the previous day nearly two hundred had indicated their intention of joining. On the day itself about two hundred and fifty attended the demonstration on the morning and early afternoon, whilst slightly less than that number were able to sit through to the inaugural meeting and sign the roll as Foundation members. The inaugural meeting of the Grassland Society began at 3 o’clock with an outline of the objectives by the Chairman, Principal D S Hendrie.

That the decision whether to form a Society should be made at as big a meeting of farmers possible, brought about by staging a demonstration in the spring on some topic of interest. The proposals seemed to be favourably received and plans went ahead for the demonstration which was to comprise two parts; silage – dealt with at the Hannah Dairy Research Institute and hay – at the West of Scotland Agricultural College Farm, Auchincruive. When all plans were made, invitations were sent to a large number of farmers in the four southern counties, Ayrshire, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown and Dumfries. South West Scotland Grassland Society Foundation Day. The season played a few tricks with the arrangements for the demonstration. Most grass crops were backward, but a fine spell of weather before the demonstration allowed both the Hannah and Auchincruive to get on with their silage and hay making, and it went against the grain to pull back on the work. The field of hay set
aside for the Auchincruive part of the demonstration was whittled down to about an acre by June 14th.

He introduced Mr J Watt Taylor, Chairman of the North of Scotland Grassland Society who described the working of their society and indicated the benefits to be obtained from such a Society It could be a meeting place where farmer and scientist could hammer out their problems to advantage.