Changes to grass mixtures for 2020

With recent changes to the derogation scheme for 2020, clover is now compulsory for all new reseeds on farms that are part of the derogation scheme. Farmers in derogation must include a minimum of 0.6kg of uncoated clover or 1kg of pelleted clover. Red or white clover is permitted.

Clover can be stitched after weed control if desired; however, better establishment will be achieved if sown as part of a full reseed.

Dr. Patrick Cashman, grass and forage development manager at Goldcrop, commented: “Clover isn’t something that we should be afraid of; I think clover can put more power in the farmer’s hand, which can only be a good thing.

“The inclusion rates required are moderate and once the clover level is moderate, a lot of the negative issues associated with clover are mitigated.”

The major demand is expected to be for naked clover, as this will allow farmers to meet their requirements at less cost as coated clover has never been shown to offer any benefits to the farmer.

Easy care swards

Everyone is now less focused on total yield as a single priority but more interested in varieties and mixtures that can deliver for them on farm. Very often this means a grass mixture that is palatable and easy to manage.

If a variety can’t always be eaten and needs to be cut to keep its quality in check, well then, that variety or mixture is more suited to a cutting system.

Of course, within a mixture yield is still important, and the goal is to achieve excellent seasonal yield, especially in the spring with a varieties that can be easy to manage during the summer. The goal is to get as much grazed grass as possible into animals to produce milk or meat, with least complications.

Graze-out

One of the traits that is not currently included in the the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Grass and Clover Recommended list or Pasture Profit Index (PPI) is the graze out of grass varieties.

For these results we must look to the Teagasc grazing trials, where individual grass varieties are grazed by cows. The ones that are grazed to lowest are the most palatable grass varieties and easiest to manage as a result.

Data source: Teagasc

Dr. Cashman mentioned that we see AstonEnergy consistently performing for graze-out in animal trials and, as a result, many farmer’s insist that it is included in their reseeding mixture to improve the overall graze-out of the sward.

Swards that are grazed out better, regrow from a clean base and have consistently better sward quality each grazing.

Spring growth

Spring growth is probably the most important part of the yield production. Regardless of soil type, having more grass growing in the spring means that animals can rely on grass earlier, get off expensive winter diets and achieve better animal performance from grass.

Sowing late-heading varieties that have leading spring growth really stand out this time of the year. Meiduno is a tetraploid that is really standing out for spring growth. In the late diploids, AstonKing and Oakpark are really way ahead on spring growth

Dr. Cashman further commented on the varieties, saying: “Meiduno, AstonKing and Oakpark have an average spring growth value of €44 above the control value on the PPI. When this is combined with the graze out from AstonEnergy, it’s an option we see a lot of people trying.”

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