As Irish farmers, we must be relentless in the pursuit to maximise the use of our unrivalled global advantage, growing grass. Alongside good grassland management, improving soil fertility and grazing infrastructure, reseeding is a critical pillar in optimising output from the grazing platform, be it for milk or meat production.
Reseeding a pasture should be viewed as a long-term farm investment over 8-10 years. The aim is to reseed 10% of the grazing platform annually, resulting in a completely renewed platform every 10 years. However, currently only 7% of the land area on specialist dairy farms in Ireland is reseeded annually (approx. 2.5% nationally if we look at the country’s entire grassland area).
A low proportion of perennial ryegrass in the sward is costing farmers up to €300/ha in lost grass production during the growing season. While according to national farm survey data, increasing total herbage production when coupled with good grassland management, can result in an additional €173 profit for every extra tonne of grass utilised on farm.
The key benefits that come with reseeding:
- Increased growth rates in the shoulders of the year.
- A sward that is approximately 25% more responsive to applied nitrogen.
- Higher feed value.
- Faster regrowth post-grazing or cutting.
In many situations due to increased demand in the spring, reseeding plans are postponed until autumn. However, this shouldn’t be the case- the higher performance post-reseeding typically compensates for loss of performance during the reseeding process and the poor performance of the sward prior to reseeding. This coupled with the fact that growth rates elsewhere on the platform at this time of year will be at their highest.
Also, compared to autumn reseeding, spring reseeds generally allow greater flexibility for post-emergence weed control, with post-emergence weed control being crucial for long-term success of a sward.
For further advice on spring reseeding, view our top tips here.