Reseeded swards: The helping hand in a difficult spring

Given the difficult ground conditions and poor grass growth rates on farms throughout the country, farmers find themselves short on fodder. Many farmers are questioning their reseeding plans for this spring in order to hold farm cover and replenish silage stocks for next winter.

Why reseed?

Farmers should still commit themselves to their reseeding programme, once feed budgets allow, as the gains are too great to ignore. When growth arrives, very rapidly, we may find ourselves with surplus grass on farms. This would provide an ideal opportunity to take out under-performing paddocks for reseeding.

Reseeding is expensive, but is one of the fastest and most rewarding on-farm investments.

Reseeding has an annual return on investment of 96%, according to Teagasc. This rapid return is driven by increased herbage production and utilisation; improved sward quality; carrying capacity; animal production; and improved nutrient use efficiency.

reseeding

Difficult spring

In a difficult spring the value of reseeded swards can really be seen as they have more herbage available, due to higher autumn/winter growth; higher response to early spring nitrogen (N) applications; and improved graze out percentages because of their higher quality and palatability.

These characteristics help to set swards up to produce large amounts of quality grass in subsequent grazing rotations and help farmers to achieve the targets of their spring rotation planner.

Benefits of reseeding:

• Increased DM (dry matter) production (+3t/ha);
• Increased nitrogen (N) use efficiency (+25%);
• Increased grass quality;
• Higher animal performance;
• Higher utilisation;
• Increased silage yield and quality.

Many farmers’ focus will be on building silage stocks, but this can be incorporated into your reseeding programme.

Swards intended for reseeding can be closed up for silage and then sprayed with glyphosate seven-to-10 days before the planned harvest date. This conveniently removes the surface trash to allow for the cultivation of a fine and firm seedbed, whilst building silage stocks.

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When to reseed?

Spring reseeding is best for successful sward establishment, despite the pressures it may place on feed budgets. Spring reseeds will produce similar, or even greater, annual yields in the year of sowing compared to old permanent pasture.

A much wider window of opportunity surrounds spring reseeds to form a suitable seed bed, apply post-emergence spray and achieve a number of grazings to encourage tillering and successful sward establishment. The risk of pest attack is also greatly reduced in spring reseeds.

Given the difficult ground conditions over the last autumn and this spring, many swards have been damaged and will need rejuvenation be it in the form of over-seeding or a complete reseed.

Variety choice

To maximise your return from reseeding the most profitable and suitable varieties for your specific use should be selected from the Teagasc Pasture Profit Index (PPI).

For grazing swards, the focus should be on varieties with the highest quality sub-index, as these will promote better graze outs and higher animal performance from higher intakes of more digestible grass. These are generally late-heading varieties.

For farmers focused on building stocks of high-quality silage, they should focus on the silage sub-index of the PPI. This takes into account a variety’s first and second-cut yield potential. Grass quality should also be prioritised when selecting a silage variety. Click here for more information on Germinal’s range