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Reseeding success is vital


Reseeding grassland increases both quantity and quality of grass grown. Estimates vary, but new reseeds should grow some 20- 40% more grass and importantly most of this extra growth will occur in spring and autumn. Michael Donoghue, Dairy Advisor Teagasc Tuam, has advice for successful reseeding

Reseeding Benefits

  • Grow extra grass (20-40% more)
  • Increased grass quality
  • Increased animal performance
  • Improved responsiveness to Nitrogen
  • Great opportunity to tackle weeds

All of these are important benefits. However at roughly €300/acre, it represents a significant investment, while also having the field out of production for between 5-8 weeks. Thus the importance of a successful reseed is vital.

Reseeding is an expensive investment which can deliver excellent returns

Drainage

Before spending money on reseeding any drainage issues have to be addressed first. Drains should be cleaned and if shores are required they should be installed. Ploughing can help with drainage and levelling badly damaged fields but be aware the “good soil” with the high fertility is being buried and this make take some years to be built back up again.

Timing

In general the rule is, the earlier in the growing season reseeding is done the better. The reason for this is that post seeding management, grazing off the sward and post spraying, can be difficult once we get into later into the year.

Spraying

A young grass plant is not very strong and will struggle badly with competition from weeds. Thus it is essential to spray off the old sward. Any of the glyphosphate products are effective but rates need to be carefully checked as they can differ a lot. Most of the products need 7+ days to fully absorb the chemical. After the plant is dead the sward can be cut for silage or grazed.

Fertility

Ensuring adequate Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) and Lime are essential for successful reseeding. The most accurate way to judge a soils requirement for these is to do a soil test, but this can take 2 weeks to get results back, so plan in advance.

If the soil is not being ploughed and a min-till method is been used, i.e. discing or power harrowing, lime will need to be applied, 2t/ac, to counter act the acid that will be produced as the old sward decays.

As a general rule of thumb 3 bags of 10:10:20 per acre are required for reseeding but this will depend on the soil test results and if a farm is allowed to buy in P's. FYM or slurry can both be used to reduce or replace bag fertiliser.

Fine and Firm Seedbed

There is sometimes a lot of debate about ploughing or using min-till. The decision will depend on a number of factors including cost, stoniness of ground, equipment available etc. All the methods can give excellent results but the basic requirement does not change which is a fine firm seedbed. After sowing the field should be rolled to ensure good soil to seed contact and preserve the moisture in the soil.

If clover is important make sure this is on the surface.

Post Spraying

Weeds: Chickweed, red shank and docks commonly emerge after sowing. These should be sprayed, preferably with a clover-safe spray, 4-5 weeks after sowing.

Pests like frit fly and leather jackets can attack reseeds and should be sprayed early if present. These tend to be more of a problem when there is a lot trash left on the surface.

For the investment to succeed attention to detail is key

Clover

In more recent years clover has been pushed by the industry as a way to help agriculture to meet its environmental obligations. By supplying N to the sward that otherwise would be supplied by artificial N, also clover improves the mid-season digestibility of the sward, this helping to improve animal performance. If clover is been targeted to be active in the new sward, particular care must be taken with post emergence spray, soil fertility has to be high and the sward has to be well grazed after sowing with a low pre grazing cover.

Reseeding is an expensive investment which can deliver excellent returns. However for the investment to succeed attention to detail and giving the young delicate grass plant every chance to establish is vital.

If you liked this article you might also like to read Reseeding for Greener Pastures 

Listen to a previous DairyEdge podcast on Reseeding below

For lots more info:

For more information on Reseeding see the Teagasc Pocket Manual for Reseeding (PDF)  You also might like to read the NEW Teagasc publication on Managing and Establishing Grass-White clover swards.  You'll also find lots of advice here on Reseeding

Teagasc Advisors are regular contributors of articles to Teagasc Daily. You can contact any of our Teagasc offices using this link Teagasc Advisory Regions here