How to pick grass mixtures for your farm this year
Grazing swards must be high yielding, easily grazed, have spring growth, quality, silage yield and ground cover, which is important on some farms.
It can be impossible to find all these traits in one variety, so most swards are sown with mixtures. A grass mixture will be the sum of the parts making up the mix. Every grass variety must be in the mix for a reason.
Tetraploid or diploid
Most grass mixtures are made up of a mixture of diploids and tetraploids.
Dr. Patrick Cashman commented: “We have seen people mix two tetraploids, AstonEnergy and Meiduno, with excellent results.
“AstonEnergy brings the graze out and quality. Meiduno is top for spring growth and one of the highest yielding varieties on the pasture profit index (PPI). But it’s not for everyone.
“These swards need to be sown on reasonably dry ground, grazed intensively to promote tillering and maintained under excellent soil fertility.
“The feedback we get is that on intensive grazing ground, a mix of roughly 50% tetraploid is suitable for intensive grazing on most farms; the high tetraploid brings excellent graze out and quality while the diploid brings a closer sward.”
Varieties to consider for grazing swards in 2019
When investing in reseeding, it is important to select the best seed to get the best return; only use varieties on the Irish recommended list.
Other seeds have failed to make that grade. When looking at the PPI, look at the sub-indices that are relevant to your intended use. Pay attention to grazing information on varieties that are not yet included in the index.
AstonEnergy, a late tetraploid, is a highly digestible variety that should be a component in any grass mixture. What really sets AstonEnergy apart is that it is grazed out better than any other variety available.
This means that the sward can regrow from a clean base each time, with no stem or dead material being carried over to the next grazing. When grass goes in the mouth of an animal it has the potential to make money. Grass that must be topped can make no money.
Meiduno is a higher-yielding tetraploid with excellent spring growth and good quality. This truly makes an excellent complement to AstonEnergy, bringing high yields and spring growth. Meiduno also has a high performance for silage if required.
Oakpark is a new late diploid on the recommended list this year from the Teagasc breeding program in Carlow.
It has excellent seasonal growth characteristics, good quality for a late diploid and excellent silage yield should the sward be required for a cut of silage. Oakpark also has very good ground cover which can be desirable in certain regions.
AstonKing comes from the same breeder as AstonEnergy. It is valuable in a grazing sward as it has the highest spring growth of all the late-heading varieties on this year’s PPI. It is new to the list this year so seed supply is limited.
The inclusion of clover should also be strongly considered. Clover offers increased feed value, improved animal performance and the potential to reduce dependence on chemical nitrogen.
Newer medium leaf clovers mix through the grass more evenly, thus reducing the risk of bloat.
A mix for intensive grazing swards
All of the above varieties are available from the Diamond High Digestibility grass seed mix, available with and without clover.
The key traits are:
- Unmatched palatability with a high percentage tetraploid and AstonEnergy, the leading variety for grazing;
- An easily grazed sward with high-quality material which drives animal performance;
- Meiduno and AstonKing are the top late-heading varieties for spring growth;
- Meiduno and Oakpark have leading season dry matter yield and silage performance if required;
- Crusader clover has proven persistence under grazing, but this mix is also available without clover;
- Due to the high proportion of tetraploid, high yields and excellent quality, this mix also works well under zero-grazing.
To find a local stockist, contact Patrick Cashman on: 086-8423782.