‘Just 2-3% of grassland swards are reseeded each year’

Despite increased discussions around the benefits of reseeding grassland, the number of farmers carrying it out remains small.

One of the country’s leading experts on grassland and seed technology has said there has not been a huge uptake in the number of farmers reseeding ground each year.

“Just 2-3% of total grassland cover is reseeded annually in Ireland,” according to Dr. Mary McEvoy of Germinal.

Dr. McEvoy was speaking at a Lakeland Agri grassland event in Clones, Co. Monaghan, on Wednesday, July 10. She was alongside other experts including Dr. Stan Lalor from Grassland Agro and Dr. David Atherton from Thomson and Joseph.

Dr. McEvoy said that while the figure is higher among dairy farmers, with 7% to 8% of land being reseeded annually, it’s much lower across the board.

For her, the benefits are obvious.

“Reseeding is one of the quickest returns on investments any farmer will get; the investment can be repaid within 18-months so it’s a no-brainer,” she said.

Dr. McEvoy added that reseeding without first getting soil fertility right is a zero-sum game.

“If your soil is an index 1 for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), then you aren’t going to get the return you need. It’s not just about reseeding without first getting the fundamentals right too,” she said.

Long-life threat from docks

The biggest weed threat to silage ground or new reseeds is the dock, according to John Boylan from crop company TP Whelehan.

“The biggest threat is the dock – no doubt about it. If you have 10 docks in a 35m² (7m X 5m) area, you’re going to have a 10% reduction in yield on your silage ground. This equates to €160 less/ha so it definitely pays to take out the docks,” Mr. Boylan said.

The area manager with the company said there is a definite window of opportunity in the coming weeks for dealing with docks, be that in a reseed or on silage ground.

“You want to target the dock about three weeks after cutting when it’s at the rosette stage or about the size of a dinner plate. The dock will eat up all the nutrients the grass wants so it will stunt the grass growth,” Mr. Boylan explained.

More worryingly, Mr. Boylan said a broadleaf dock can have as many as 60,000 seeds and can lay dormant in the soil as long as 80 years.

“If you target the weed with the right product and at the right time then you can kill it effectively,” he said.