Why this Co. Cork family kept the focus on grass

Increased stocking rates has meant that grassland productivity is more critical now than ever before. Grass is the cheapest source of feed, therefore achieving maximum growth from it is the most profitable way forward on any livestock farm.

According to Co. Cork farmer Bobby Cotter following a grassland management plan which focuses on soil fertility, reseeding with good quality grass seed has been a major contributing factor into why their farming system works so well.

Alongside her husband Peter, Bobby runs a 25ac beef enterprise in Charleville, Co. Cork. In order to manage their expanding herd size, the Cotter family made the switch to zero grazing as a way of increasing grassland utilisation and maximising animal performance.

Despite adapting well to the zero-grazing system, they were initially not seeing a return on investment when it came to animal performance.

With the help of local Agritech distributor Des Fitzgerald and Agritech technical nutritionist Bil Ryan, the Cotter’s put a reseeding programme in place; something which has gone on to deliver optimum results.

Soil fertility

To achieve maximum results from your new reseed and to improve the productivity of the sward, soil fertility must be correct. Prior to reseeding, it is crucial to carry out soil tests for phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and pH, testing to a minimum of 10cm soil depth.

Where soil fertility is at an optimum, it will require two-to-three bags of 10-10-20, plus 1t of lime minimum, to provide enough P to feed the sward, kick-start early growth, and to allow the sward to reach its full potential.

Early P is essential for root development as it feeds the roots and the roots feed the leaf. Nitrogen (N) without P only feeds the leaf and does not achieve the same response.

Reseeding with quality

According to Agritech’s Bil Ryan: “A grass sward containing 100% perennial ryegrass will grow up to 3t DM/ha more than a sward containing 15% perennial ryegrass and it also produces a higher feed quality; thereby increasing animal performance, i.e. milk output and daily live-weight gain.”

Deciding whether your sward will be used for grazing or silage will influence your grass mixture choice.

The Agritech Tipperary Grass Seed Range has a mix for every situation. The flagship premium mixture, Tipperary Grass No. 4A, is suitable for intensive paddock grazing, whereas Tipperary Grass No. 2 can be used for a less intensive grazing and silage systems.

Tipperary Grass No. 5 is designed to produce up to five cuts of high-quality forage as zero-grazing and three cuts of silage. The traditional Tipperary Grass No. 3 is ideal for two cuts of silage, plus shoulder grazing.

With stocking rates at exceptionally high levels, many farmers are struggling to find an opportunity to achieve a full reseed. In response to this, Agritech has also developed the Renovation Overseeding Mixture which is specifically designed to extend the life of an existing sward.

Like all Tipperary Grass Seed mixtures, it is coated with a unique germination dressing called GroQuik®, which enables a quick turnaround in established swards.

Commenting on this, Bil stated: “What makes the Tipperary Grass Seed Range unique is that every mixture is treated with GroQuik®, a biological seed stimulant which has been proven to accelerate germination and especially root growth in both grasses and clover.”

The benefit of an enhanced and more developed root structure helps to ensure that the grass plant has access to more nutrients from the soil, thereby ensuring improved efficiency and extra herbage yield.

Post management

All the benefits of reseeding can be lost after sowing if attention is not paid to weed and pest control. It is essential that post-emergence control of weeds such as docks and chickweed are carried out four to six weeks after emergence, when the grass is at the two to three leaf stage.

High populations of weeds such as fat hen and redshank can be problematic also.

Bil concluded: “Watch out for the three most significant pests of reseeds: Frit Fly; Leatherjackets; and Slugs, and treat accordingly.”

Planning for your reseeding programme

For any further advice on autumn reseeding or to choose a suitable grass mixture from the Tipperary Grass Seed Range, contact your local Agritech distributor, or simply click here