With the winter period coming to an end it’s a good time to assess the need for spring re-seeding in grassland pastures, whether it be repairing damaged areas or addressing a lack of productivity in older swards.
The most productive leys are often young reseeds sown with the most recently bred varieties of grass and a simple check on the content of established swards should give insight into whether a reseed is necessary. This check can be carried out by simply pulling up a random selection of plants all over the field and working out the proportion of ryegrass to weed grass. Ryegrass has a distinctive red colouration at the stem base unlike invasive grasses such as creeping bent and meadow grass. Ideally, swards should contain at least 60% of the original sown species to ensure fields remain productive.
Other factors worth considering include areas of poaching which result in bare patches, seriously reducing the production value of a pasture. As well as this, if there are any notable changes in performance from previous years these should also be considered.
Some fields may warrant a full reseed, with extensive damage due to poaching best remedied by ploughing. For newer leys or areas with less significant damage, renovation through overseeding may be the most effective course of action.
Area Sales Manager for Germinal NI, David Little says “Reseeding a grass ley is one of the most cost-effective practices that can be carried out on farm”. By doing so it boosts the output of the cheapest source of feed available to farmers and is a long-term benefit, with modern long-term leys remaining productive for 7-10 years under the right management. As a conservative estimate, new leys will produce at least 1 extra tonne dry matter per acre in a year, when compared to a 10-year-old pasture. “With the clear benefits to feed value and subsequent yields, the costs of reseeding should be recovered in the first year with further gains in the years to follow”.
Whichever method of reseeding you decide to go for, be sure to use the best available grass varieties to further boost sward performance over the coming years.