Act now to maintain productive grassland next year

Act now to maintain productive grassland next year

Monday, September 17, 2012

According to David Long, research and development manager for Barenbrug, the 'catch me when you can' forage harvesting season we've experienced has resulted in considerable damage to many fields. To avoid causing numerous problems next season damage must be recrified now.

"Many grass fields have suffered severely from the very wet summer. When foraging was possible many fields were cut up and severely tracked. The wet conditions also lef to many grazing fields being severely poached and rutted.

"Left to their own devices or with ruts levelled out, fields will green up, but with non-productive weed species like meadow-grass rather than the productive species sown," adds David.

"Meadow grasses have a yield 50 percent less than perennial ryegrass and a response to Nitrogen of only 17 percent of ryegrass, so the normal reaction of adding more fertiliser to boost yields can be a very expensive mistake.

"Renovating a sward is a cheaper and easier alternative to a complete re-seed."

To help, Barenbrug have produced a quick five steps to success guide for overseeding:

1. Relieve any areas of compaction by using a grassland sub-soiler or aerator (if conditions allow) and level out any ruts.

2. Use a spring tine harrow to remove any dead stalks, thatch and shallow rooted weed grasses, make sure that the tines are working the top 1cm of the soil as this will create the seed bed for the new seeds.

3. Broadcast a specialist over-seeding mixture at a seed rate of 25kg/ha (10kg/acre). These mixtures use species that will establish rapidly, boost production and help to smother weeds.

4. Roll the sward with a Cambridge roller to incorporate the seeds into the soil, or alternatively walk sheep, several times, across the reseeded area.

5. Ideally graze the sward tightly for a couple of weeks following overseeding to minimise the competition to the seedlings.

David concludes: "Repairing this summer's damage now ensures production for next year and efficient use of expensive fertilisers; don't do it and you could be wondering where next year's production is coming from."

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