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Independent.ie

Friday 9 December 2016

'Aim for 10pc reseeding per annum'

Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30

Teagasc advisor Pat Moylan. Photo: Pat Moore.
Teagasc advisor Pat Moylan. Photo: Pat Moore.

Farmers should be trying to aim to reseed 10pc of the farm each year, says a Teagasc dairy advisor.

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Kilkenny-based Pat Moylan, who is also the advisor on PJ O'Keeffe's farm, explains the major benefit of reseeding is delivering more grass in the early spring and late autumn.

"We'd expect 1.5 to 2/t DM ha more grass growth from the reseeded pastures but the other big benefit of reseeding is you generally get better growth in the shoulder parts of the year which is when farms like this with a high six week calving rate need to have the growth rate," he says.

"It will reduce the need for supplementation."

In a farm that is heavily stocked like PJ's with 2.5LU/ha overall, Mr Moylan explained they are looking for late heading perennial ryegrass varieties, with good density that will endure under the grazing conditions experienced this spring.

He advises farmers to examine the Pasture Profit Index - likened to an EBI for grass varieties - to help choose the best performing grass for their enterprise.

"You might only reseed this field once in the next 10 to 15 years so you want to pick the best varieties," he says, urging farmers to examine persistency, autumn-spring growth, yield and consistency.

Soil sampling is important with only 10pc of samples at index 3 for P (phosphorus) and K (potassium) as good fertility is vital to deliver the strong grass growth, he says.

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"The typical intake of a cow in a year is 5t/DM, so if you are stocked at 2.5LU/ha over the whole farm then you are close to utilising 12.5t/DM ha so 14t/DM ha would need to be grown," he explains.

The best time to reseed on highly stocked farms is between April and June. "Growth rate is quite strong at those times of the year so land can be taken out quite easily and if you reseed a field anytime from April 1 onwards you'll get good growth conditions and have it back to graze within four to six weeks," he says.

"If you say I'll leave it until August or September, something else might happen or the weather might change and you won't do it. Generally, we find that late reseeding ends up in very poor sward the following spring."

He says research has shown the clover mixes can deliver better milk solids but at higher stocking rates it does not last long-term as it needs careful management.

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