The inclusion of clover in grass reseed mixes has increased significantly over the past two years, according to Germinal Ireland technical director, Dr. Mary McEvoy.

Dr. McEvoy told Agriland: “It’s a trend that can be traced back to the dramatic increase in fertiliser prices that directly followed Russis’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It makes absolute sense for farmers to include realistic levels of clover as part of their grassland reseeding programmes.”

The Germinal representative acknowledged that many grazing paddocks have been damaged as a result of the very wet spring conditions.

“In some cases the remedial action may simply entail rolling the affected ground and then patch those badly affected areas with seed,” she said.

“However, in some cases it might be a case of pushing ahead with a complete reseeding operation,” she added.

Dr. McEvoy confirmed that grass sown out at the beginning of May can be grazed lightly by cows seven to eight weeks later.

“It takes six weeks to get the new grass plants to become well established. At that stage, it would be appropriate to spray for weeds,” she continued.

“This leaves a new sward ready for grazing before the end of June. Cows are regarded as the animals of choice to graze off new grass, provided ground conditions are suitable and the grass plants pass the pull test.

“Trials carried out in Ireland confirm that new grass swards established at the beginning of May can produce up to 10t/ac of dry matter (DM) in their first season.

“Even if a dry spell hits during the month of May, there will be sufficient moisture available from early morning dews to allow the growth of newly establish grass plants,” she added.

However, grass reseeds established in June and July can become problematic if a dry spell comes in at that time of the year, according to the Germinal representative.

Farm walk

Meanwhile, over 60 farmers and seed trade representatives attended a recent farm walk on the farm of Brian Hogan at Horse and Jockey, Co. Tipperary.

Organised by Germinal Ireland, those present heard how Brian set about establishing and managing clover and multi-species swards on his farm.

His philosophy is to produce high quality milk off grass. To make this happen, he always needs grass ahead of his cows.

Brian Hogan has had his cows out since January, but continued to take them in at night, however they have been out day and night for the past fortnight.

Until now, he has been feeding silage at milking and a 14% protein nut. He is on his third round of grazing, but still has some first-round paddocks left to graze.

Over 60 farmers and seed trade representatives attended a farm walk on Brian Hogan’s farm at Horse and Jockey, Co. Tipperary organised by the Germinal Ireland team.. Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

Seven years ago, he set about a strategy to reduce his chemical nitrogen (N) fertiliser use with clover.

“We have made some mistakes, but you learn and you improve. Overall, it has been working for us. But, it is something that farmers need to plan for – maybe look to reseed 10% to 15% of the farm each year,” Brian Hogan explained.

“Building up fertility with phosphate, potash and lime is also very important.”

Clover and herd management

In 2023, Hogan sowed a red and white clover grazing mix for the first time. The grass varities chosen were: AberGain; AberChoice; Ballyvoy; and Ballintoy.

“Following reseeding, red clovers start fixing nitrogen straight away. White clovers won’t get going until year two,” Hogan added.

“Temperature is also very important and we cut chemical nitrogen fertiliser use almost completely from about the middle of the grazing season.”

Brian Hogan pays a lot of attention to herd health and integrates his grazing management with the condition of the cows.

He said: “With clover, it is important to pay close attention to the cows and how hungry they look.

“I don’t let them into paddocks with a lot of clover if they look hungry. We haven’t had problems with bloat. But we manage it carefully. Also, at this stage our cows are used to clover in their diet.”


Germinal’s Diarmuid Murphy provided a checklist for reseeding with grass-clover swards.

“Farmers need to plan their reseeding. This must start with identifying which paddocks should be reseeded and then soil test accordingly,” Murphy said.

“This will determine what the fertility is like and if there is a need to apply applying nitrogen, phosphate and potash. Lime is also critical.

“In preparing the seed bed, farmers have options; normally ploughing or min-till. Each has its own requirements.

“After burning-off the existing sward with glyphosate, it should be possible to reseed about a week after ploughing,” he explained.

However, if a min-till approach has been taken, he strongly recommends waiting for up to three weeks, until such time as the old sward has been properly removed.

Murphy strongly advised rolling. “The advice we all got from our fathers is that the seedbed should be firm enough to cycle a bike across it.

“While this might be bit of an exaggeration, rolling the ploughed field after tilling, and then after sowing seed is still advisable. The grass and clover seed should be placed barely below the surface of the soil.

“We recommend applying the chosen seed mixture at a rate of 14kg/ac.

“As mixtures are sold in 12kg bags, this works out at a recommending sowing rate of a bit over a bag to the acre, or about six bags for 5ac.”