Sowing the seeds of success in Edenderry with farm investment
Switch to minimum cultivation on cards to give faster turn-around of fields
Published 18/06/2014 | 02:30
TOM Groome is a part-time suckler-to-weaning farmer in Edenderry, Co Offaly. He also works as an AI technician for Dovea Genetics.
Tom sees reseeding as an essential on-farm investment which helps to maintain animal performance on his farm. This is largely due to having more grass in spring and autumn, when demand is at its greatest.
During the last six years, Tom has reseeded almost 50pc of his farm. This allows him to get his spring calving cows to grass in February/March, which has real benefits in terms of lower disease among young calves, earlier return to heat by cows and enhanced animal performance.
Early calving and early turnout are very important in achieving a heavy weanling for sale in the autumn.
"Since I have started my reseeding programme grass silage is of much better quality and I have a substantial yield of silage to harvest in the first week of June," Tom says.
" I have found that I am growing more grass and I have set up a series of grazing paddocks to allow me to best utilise this for my cows and calves. I also forward creep graze my calves to ensure they get the best quality grass possible to achieve maximum liveweight gains."
When Tom decides to reseed, he considers the range of reseeding options available. In the past he has always ploughed for reseeding and has found it the most successful way of establishing a new sward.
Some of Tom's land is quite wet, and normally drainage issues have to be sorted out as part of the job.
"Ploughing is the option that suits my farm best. It allows me to level fields after land drainage work."
However, he acknowledges that minimum cultivation may have a place on his farm in the future, especially on more level fields. He would be tempted by the faster turnaround in grazing that can be achieved with these systems.
Normal practice on this farm when reseeding is to first soil sample to determine soil fertility status. Once round-up is applied to the old sward, he leaves it to rest for two to three weeks to ensure a full kill-off of weeds, especially docks.
Land is then ploughed and rolled before harrowing. Ground limestone is applied on the ploughed ground before tilling to correct the pH if necessary. This allows the lime to be worked into the seedbed. Fertiliser is broadcast on the seed bed just before sowing.
The grassseed on this farm is sowed using a one pass machine and then is rolled immediately after sowing. Tom prefers to reseed in August as there is generally no issue with drought and he gets a chance to apply the post-emergence weed spray in September, before soil conditions deteriorate.
Tom believes that a successful reseed is dependent on a post-emergence weed spray, maintaining soil fertility and frequent tight grazing especially throughout the first year.