Now is the time of year that grass quality is the most difficult to manage. However, those who make swift management decisions at this stage will be rewarded in the long term.
All grasses are programmed to ‘head out’ in June. As grasses ‘head out’, there is less leaf area for the remainder of the growing season. Animal performance is dependent on a high leaf to stem ratio in our farm grass swards, therefore it is highly recommended that farmers assess the ryegrass content of their swards now.
Paddocks should be grazed as they reach 1250 to 1350kg/dm/ha and all surplus growth above this should be conserved for silage bales at 1800kg/dm/ha and fertilised quickly to return to the next grazing rotation. Fields that have a poor clean out or reduction on animal performance should be assessed and if they contain less than 50% ryegrass, they should be identified for immediate reseeding.
Once old wild grasses head out, their response to fertiliser reduces. As a result, many Irish farmers will reseed now as recovery post grazing or cutting.
The conventional system of full reseeds on intensive dairy farms has reduced in popularity in countries like the UK, New Zealand, Finland and other pasture-based milk producing countries. Their system is simple; cut or graze the sward tightly and use a special grass seed mixture like our Tipperary Grass Rejuvenation/Overseeding Mixture.
This mixture is specifically formulated to extend the life of an existing sward and maintain yield and quality. The inclusion of larger late tetraploid seeds will allow it to establish and compete with the existing sward and it is also GroQuik dressed to ensure faster germination.
In addition to using a high quality grass seed mixture, following the below management practices will be critical in achieving a good reseed:
- Using a stitching machine (Moore, Vergo Drill), cut a slot in the existing sod and drop the new seed into it.
- Spread two bags of 10:10:20 and two bags of granulated lime or one tonne of ground lime after sowing.
- The ground should also be rolled with a land roller to give excellent soil to seed contact and to help prevent pest attacks.
- Keep a close eye on the emerging grass plants and graze at 14 day intervals to get maximum results.