Increasing grassland productivity is always on the wish list, however it is always worth revisiting the criteria for choosing a re-seed. The last couple of years have seen some interesting weather patterns and in most cases recently reseeded fields have performed substantially better than older leys on the farm.
In order to maximise animal performance we must first ensure we are optimising the production of grass on farm. The average grass produced nationally is 7 t DM/ha, with the top farms producing over 15 t DM/ha (over twice as much). There is huge scope to increase the total grass grown and hence increase grass in the diet, while reducing feed costs.
Soil fertility is critical to maximising the performance and longevity of swards. 90% of all soils tested are below the level of pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels required. Without doubt, this is costing farms throughout the country significantly. Completing regular soil fertility tests on your farm (every 3 to 4 years) and using the results to develop a fertiliser program is critical to ensure you can get the most from your swards.
Reseeding correctly increases the perennial ryegrass content in swards which can:
Timing of reseeding
Reseeding is ideally conducted in the autumn with the seed drilled the end of August, this increases germination due to the increased availability of Phosphorous which is very temperature sensitive as delaying beyond this date can result in deteriorating weather causing poor establishment of the new grass.
Deciding on what fields to reseed
The general recommendation is to reseed 10 to 15% of the farm per year to maximise the quality and performance of your swards. This way if you can get into a routine the oldest lays on your farm will only be 6-7 years old and should all perform to a high standard, also this will in a way force you to lime and get yourself out of the 90% bracket as mentioned above
Selecting the right varieties for your particular requirements is critical to ensure you maximise the performance and value of your new reseed. Always use varieties from the recommended list and not just the top 2 on the label. Also target according to heading dates and use of the ley.
A fine firm seed bed is crucial will help conserve moisture in the soil – which is important for germination. A loose seed bed will dry out much quicker and this may result in poor germination or weak establishment. An old rule of thumb is that you should be able to cycle a bike across the seedbed!
After sowing, Cambridge rolling ensures good soil-to-seed contact. A loose seed bed will have a lower germination rate. The 2 most common reasons for the failure of a new reseed are drilling too deep and not rolling after sowing.
Grazing the new reseed
The new reseed should be grazed as soon as the plants can withstand the pull test (using your fingers check to see if the roots stay anchored in the ground when you pull the grass plants as an animal would when grazing). Early grazing is crucial to allow light into the sward and also encourage tillering of the plant.
Grass re-seed and Over-seeding mixtures
We have a comprehensive range of grass seeds available. We have selected mixtures only containing proven varieties from the recommended grass and clover lists.
Re-seed mixtures come in 14 and 15 kilogram packs, helping ensure a good establishment and performance.