CHOOSE RESEEDING MIXTURES TO MAXIMISE RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Farmers planning their 2017 grassland reseeding should select modern perennial and hybrid rye grasses in their seeds mixtures ahead of shorter term Italian rye grasses if they want to maximise their return on investment.

Use the data on the Recommended Lists as the basis of seed mixture selection when reseeding grassland.

Italian rye grass has been grown for many years as a short term silage crop, but if you look at the performance of modern hybrid and perennial rye grasses, there are strong arguments to challenge such an approach,

Using the BGS recommended list you can see the best modern hybrid rye grass was shown to out-yield the top-ranked Italian over the first year of production, and the top perennial rye grass at that time moved ahead of the Italian in the second year. Hybrids and perennials are also significantly higher in quality (D-value) than Italians, so the overall ME yield/ha – and therefore performance potential – will be far better, even over the short term.

The issues associated with growing Italians as opposed to hybrids and high quality perennials in the south west, are cutting windows. If you consider that optimal time for cutting is 7-10 days before heading dates, this brings an Italian back to the last week of April, and due to the quality drop off (as much as 1d a day 0.16ME) if the weather constraints cause you to be 10 days late that is a massive 1.6 ME difference. This is exacerbated even more when you take the optimal D value of 67 (10.76 ME) your down to ME’s of 10 which is what we have been seeing this season. The drop off of hybrids is less dramatic and the later heading dates also give you a much higher window to cut higher quality silage, and even if you are held up for whatever reason the starting point of 76D (12.16ME) the opportunity to cut at least 11 ME silage is that much greater.

Daniel Loe from forage experts Germinal, also urges farmers to use the data on the Recommended Lists as the basis of their seeds mixture selection when reseeding grassland.

“In research carried out at IBERS Aberystwyth University, the best modern hybrid rye grass was shown to out-yield the top-ranked Italian over the first year of production, and the top perennial ryegrass at that time moved ahead of the Italian in the second year. Hybrids and perennials are also significantly higher in quality (D-value) than Italians, so the overall ME yield/ha – and therefore performance potential – will be far better, even over the short term.”

“The cost could be £25 – £50/ha higher when using perennial or hybrid rye grasses as opposed to Italians, However this extra investment is easily justified over just a single cut of silage”

“In most cases a reseed will provide a return on investment in the first year, but if you select mixtures based on perennial and hybrid rye grasses you will be spreading the cost over 3 – 5 years and possibly longer.”

Italian rye grasses may offer a bumper first cut in the first year, but with the aim of producing milk or meat efficiently from forage, selecting the best available hybrid and perennial ryegrasses is definitely the way to go.

 

Table 1:

Comparative dry matter yields of varying ryegrass types over four years (as percentage of control)

TypeYr 1 DM yield (%)Yr 2 DM yield (%)Yr 3 DM yield (%)Yr 4 DM yield (%)Total over 4 years (%)
Top ranking Italian rye grass 127.8112.3113.893.7111.9
Hybrid rye grass (AberEcho)132.4128.4121.296.4119.6
Perennial rye grass (AberMagic)124.7129.0115.3114.0120.8
Control (S23)100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0

Source: IBERS Aberystwyth University

Table 2:

Comparative quality of varying ryegrass types (second cut silage)

TypeD-valueME (MJ/kg DM)
Italian rye grass (average of all on RL)66.810.6
Hybrid rye grass (AberEcho)72.2

11.6

 

Perennial rye grass (AberZeus)74.812.0

Source: Recommended Lists for Grass and Clover 2016/17

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