Reseed and the grass will be greener!
Agriculture is a very important sector to Ireland’s national and local economy with over 100,000 people employed in the primary sector* and Agri-Food & Drink exports increased in 2015 to €10.8billion**.
Spring or Autumn are the recommended times to reseed paddocks on farms and while requiring significant investment, it does improve the quantity and quality of grass.
Pat Horgan of Ulster Bank talks to Tara De Buitléar, the Agri Proposition Manager in Ulster Bank, about the importance of grassland management for farmers and Agri businesses.
The Agri-sector is experiencing a period of low farm incomes, what is the outlook for the sector?
Global Supply and Demand conditions have resulted in low commodity prices at this time. But the long-term prospects for the Agriculture sector remain positive. Increasing global population and the trend towards urbanisation in developing countries, combined with greater affluence in those countries, will lead to increased demand for agriculture & food products.
Does this mean prices will improve?
Price volatility remains a challenge for the sector, the Irish Agriculture sector needs to consider how it will address price volatility into the long term.
How can farmers deal with price volatility?
A key starting point is to capture and analyse your farms technical information so you fully understand the farm’s existing performance and can begin to plan for improvement. Once you understand your farm technical KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you can then identify where changes or enhancements can be made. It is important to develop a plan to implement the changes to help improve your farm’s performance. Improved grassland management practices are an enhancement well worth adopting as part of your farm development plan.
Grass as a Farm Key Performance Indicator?
The profitability of dairy, beef and sheep farm systems is intrinsically linked to grass production and utilisation. Effective grass management indicators are Key Performance Indicators in the Livestock Industry. We have an international competitive advantage in farming in Ireland because of our grass growth and our use of grass production systems.
Moorepark*** research has shown that increasing grass growth & utilisation will positively impact the profitability of your farm. Reseeding grassland improves grass yields. Reseeding increases grass dry matter output per hectare. Reseeded grass exhibits improved response to fertilisers, especially Nitrogen. Reseeding can extend the grazing season in spring and autumn, generate higher quality feed, and improve animal performance.
However, reseeding levels in Ireland are low. Each year, less than 2% of our annual grassland area is reseeded. Just 7% of the land on specialist dairy farms in Ireland is reseeded annually. Productive perennial ryegrass swards with optimum soil fertility and good management are a must if grass growth and utilisation are to be optimised at farm level.
Should I reseed?
The bottom line for a decision to reseed is to increase farm profits. Consider if reseeding can improve your grass growth and utilisation. If you are developing a grassland management plan
- Conduct a soil test to establish farm & paddock soil fertility
- Identify paddocks for reseeding through continued monitoring and measuring
- Follow good reseeding husbandry advice
- Weed control is vital
- Graze when herbage mass is 1000 – 1200kg DM/ha
- Avoid poaching and overgrazing
As farmers seek to manage their farm costs in the midst of farm income pressures, reseeding, soil fertility and improved grassland management practices have definite roles to play. Take the time to review your farm, understand its soil fertility and begin the process of improvement. You will certainly see the improvements grow!
Want to discuss reseeding on your farm ?
Our Agri managers are located in farming communities across the country. Email the Agri team – we are ready to meet you to discuss your plans for your farm and how we can help you achieve your farm plans – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Horgan is Head of SME Banking Ulster Bank in Region South.
*Source – DAFM 2016
** Bord Bia – Industry profile 2016.