Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Annual re-seeding target remains at 5-10pc

Covered: The Magans operate at higher grass covers than average because they have such a high stocking rate
Covered: The Magans operate at higher grass covers than average because they have such a high stocking rate
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Despite having the highest recorded grass output in the country last year, Mick Magan plans to maintain his annual reseeding target of 5-10pc.

"We'll be taking out the lowest producing fields this year - the ones producing down around 15-16tDM/ha. That may sound crazy because that's not a bad level of output, but it's still 5tDM/ha lower than what the best fields here are doing. We also notice that reseeds tend to produce for longer in the autumn, and get going earlier in the spring," he says, acknowledging the increased value of additional grass during these lean shoulder months.

Reseeding is targeted at the period centred around the longest day of the year - June 21.

"We target this date for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we reckon it's a better use of our money replacing lower than average paddocks when we're growing a surplus, rather than turning it all into silage.

"The second reason for reseeding at this time is to minimise the amount of time that it takes to get the paddock back into the equation. If we reseed three to four weeks before this date, we can have the area back in the grazing rotation within 42 days. That's a lot less time out of the mix compared to doing it in the autumn, and it ensures that you get in for an early grazing to get that tillering effect.

"In fact, last year we had the cows back in grazing our reseeds within 40 days. They only were in for about five hours on fairly light covers, but that allowed us to graze it to the butt and get the tillering process started. The short time helped protect the ground from getting poached. The dry conditions last year would've helped also," says Mick.

His figures show that last year's reseed out-performed their worst producing field, even though it was out of production for 40 days at the height of the grazing season.

The reseeding technique used is a standard one - the sward is sprayed off with glyphosate, and grazed tight or cut for silage. Then it gets a heavy application of farmyard manure - "every bit we have in the place!" according to Mick. This is ploughed down, before the ground is sown with a single-pass harrow-and-seeder.

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The Magans have opted for a mono-culture (single variety) seed for the last seven years of reseeding.

"At first we were a bit nervous about it, but the results have been outstanding. In recent years we've used tetraploids such as Abergain, Aston Energy and Kintyre. The latter two were the nicest to work with.

"The cows loved them because they are really palatable, and they have good ground cover.


That's one of the potential downsides to using tetraploids - they can become a bit gappy, and we did find that with Bealey. Having said that, we're open to using some of the newer diploids and I think that's what we're going to go with this year," he says.

No clover is used, since Mick believes that it wouldn't last with the rates of fertiliser being used on the farm.

"It was the same in New Zealand when I was there. If you are going for really high output per hectare, it's difficult for the clover to have a role. There's really good trials going on down in Clonakilty, but as of now we will stick to grass only reseeds."

Indo Farming