Archive: Reseeding farmers experiences

Published 15 August 14

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Following on from the reseeding article in the previous Forage for Knowledge, we asked three farmer contributors when and why they reseed.

Gloucestershire

Keith Davis milks two herds of spring-calving cows and milks once a day, on the banks of the River Severn, in Gloucestershire;

“Measuring grass growth on a weekly basis means we can easily identify the swards in the bottom 10% for yield,” explains Keith. “Those will be looked at to find the reason behind their poor performance. We’ll look at nutrients and compaction first, before thinking about reseeding, as it does have costs associated with it but something will be done to that bottom 10% to improve performance.

“We’ve tried spring, autumn and late autumn reseeding and at the moment we seem to be getting the best results with reseeding in about mid-March. As we always go from grass to grass, we first spray off with Roundup at the full rates, to get a good kill-off and then direct drill with discs to get a good slot to drop the seed into.

“When we reseed in the autumn, the grass never really seems to get a chance to get away from the weeds and we’ve had a lot of problems establishing clover. But, reseeding in March means we’re pretty certain to get some good moisture and, with soil temperature creeping up, the plant takes off pretty quickly and we are usually grazing it in about six weeks. The cows help us get on top of any weed problems before they really take hold.

“The fields we reseeded in 2013, which were in the bottom 10% for production the previous year, were out of the round for six weeks and still managed to exceed the average grass production across all of our paddocks. I expect them to be among our top performing paddocks this year. Reseeding does have a cost but soon pays back in increased sward production.

Cheshire

“The computer programme highlights the bottom performing pastures and we make sure we go and inspect them before we make any decisions,” say Alistair Cliff, who milks a spring and an autumn-calving herd near Chester.

“We first look to see if poor performance is down to a weed or compaction issue, before we think about reseeding. It varies a bit but we probably reseed about 10-12% of the grassland a year.

“With our spring-calving herd we reseed in the spring, when the flush of grass means we have good availability of grass across the farm and the reseed is available for grazing later in the season. In some areas we undersow the reseed with barley. We harvest this in July and then graze with youngstock or take a silage cut, off.

“For the autumn-calving herd we reseed in autumn. It’s really a case of grass availability which leads our decision making.

“With spring reseeding, we sometimes have to go on with some dirty water, if we’re struggling with dry weather. We do tend to reseed in autumn on our light ground, as we know the moisture will be there,” Alistair explains.

Carmarthenshire

“On the area we have as designated silage ground we have a policy of reseeding every five years, with a silage mix,” explains John Owen, who milk a spring-calving herd in Carmarthenshire. “We reseed in the spring by undersowing the barley and take silage cuts afterwards.

“We haven’t got a distinct reseeding policy for the grazing ground but tend to base decisions on the amount of ryegrass in the sward. At 50% or above, we feel we can maintain or increase the ryegrass content by good grazing or by increasing the nutrients.

“If levels are dropping below 50%, ryegrass we direct drill into the pasture. With rotational grazing, the sward tends to be quite open so the seeds establish well and rejuvenate the sward quickly.”