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Monday 5 December 2016

Reap benefits of reseeding a field at a time

Take small steps in adopting the practice and see for yourself the advantages it can provide

John Donworth

Published 09/08/2011 | 05:00

The holy grail of job satisfaction in any extension service is seeing technology transfer in action and seeing the farmer benefit from it. If the farmer has a positive experience as a result of adopting a practice on a farm, they are much more likely to continue with it. In other words, the farmer has bought into the whole process and you get movement.

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So what piece of technology adopted by farmers has given me job satisfaction of late? The simple answer is reseeding. One might think that it's hardly possible this year that there are milk suppliers out there grazing their cows on 100pc old pasture. Well, I can assure you, there are a number of them.

We have constantly pushed farmers down the reseeding route. It was an easy message to sell to farmers. Practice adoption was not a problem.

In the days prior to the current Dairy Efficiency Programme (DEP), we had only one in six dairy farmers in discussion groups. With the advent of the DEP, one-in-three dairy farmers are now in discussion groups. Teagasc is now exposed to a whole new band of dairy farmers, where grassland management practices may not have changed in 20 years.

Motivation

As a result, I have walked dairy farms where no reseeding at all has taken place. One can point the finger in a number of directions: lack of motivation, the Celtic Tiger, bad weather, poor milk price and difficult soils.

In any case, if you arrive on a farm where no reseeding has taken place, you know the host farmer is going to benefit greatly from the day. This is provided, of course, that the farmer will buy into the whole process and take the message on board.

All the information about reseeding is in the public domain. It is not rocket science and there is no mystery about it.

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Michael O'Donovan in Moorepark is telling us that you have your money back within two years. He is also telling us that dairy farmers are losing €300/ha as a result of old pastures and that such fields are 25pc less responsive to fertiliser application.

To move a dairy farmer from where he/she has no reseeding done to one where they commit to reseeding 15pc of the ground each year is a monumental step for some.

So, how do you eat an elephant? In small doses. Get the farmer to reseed two or three acres first and then wait for the outcome. Since this person is more than likely in a discussion group, one can ask them at each meeting how things are progressing. If they tell you milk yield went up when the cows grazed the field, you know you are on a winner. Even better still, if milk protein goes up, then you know you are on a real winner.

It is this type of positive experience that encourages the farmer to take the next step. They now see the benefit of reseeding and the potential of new grass. The comment 'I see it for myself' tells you all you need to know.

Indo Farming