In this article, That’s Farming discusses the financial impact of reseeding in spring this year, the importance of reseeding permanent pasture, fertiliser prices and slow grass growth, as well as managing your new reseed.
Grass is the cheapest source of feed available to livestock farmers in Ireland.
In 2021, reseeding cost circa €300/acre, which included spraying off, fertiliser and lime, contractors charges, cost of seed etc.
With the elevation in fertiliser and fuel prices, this figure will cost substantially more in 2022. Fuel prices have risen by 32% in the last 12 months, according to the AA. Meanwhile, fertiliser prices have climbed by 134%.
As the quality of permanent pasture declines, it is good practice to reseed paddocks on your farm.
According to Teagasc, perennial ryegrass swards produce 3t DM/ha/year compared to permanent pasture, which has not been reseeded in recent years.
Furthermore, the state agency has recommended that you reseed paddocks with a perennial ryegrass content of less than 40%.
Importance of reseeding
Reseeding is an important management decision to increase the overall productivity of the farm through the following;
- Increased animal live weight gain;
- Ability to carry higher stocking rates;
- Faster regrowth;
- Earlier grass growth;
- Improved in silage quality;
- Improved nitrogen usage efficiency.
According to Teagasc, the improvement in silage quality results in an increased DMD % from 68 to 72. In turn, this improvement can reduce meal feeding by 1kg/head/day.
There is no denying that the high fertiliser prices will provide a huge challenge for reseeding in 2022.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that fertiliser prices have soared by 134% from March 2021.
Furthermore, these increases come hand-in-hand with the impact of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Both countries involved are global suppliers of fertiliser to Ireland.
With these unprecedented increased financial strains, many farmers are struggling to face the financial viability of reseeding in spring 2022.
Resultantly, many co-ops and merchants have restricted the sale of fertilisers, some farmers do not have access to what they need.
During a media appearance on RTÉ News on March 15th, 2022, Dr. Kevin Hanrahan, Head of the Teagasc Rural Economy Programme declared that there will definitely be shortages of fertiliser. However, he stressed that it is important that people do not panic buy.
Delayed grass growth
The delayed grass growth is also creating a challenge for farmers this spring. Farmers are utilising the grass they currently have available, before considering removing parcels for reseeding.
Many farms across the north-west of Ireland see livestock still housed in April, with a slow grass growth this spring compared to previous years.
When reseeding in spring, the optimal time for grassland to return to production is approximately 60 days. A farmer must be prepared to wait this period without spring grass without utilising the pasture for production.
Generally, some farmers are slow to reseed pastures because they view the non-productive period as being too long.
However, you should note that the turnaround for the pasture to return to production is faster in spring than compared to autumn.
Once the grassroots have strengthened and you can pull the grass without the roots pulling also, you can graze the reseed. Short grazing intervals with young stock or sheep will encourage tillering while also reducing surface damage in the field.
A huge factor in relation to reseeding is managing weed control. The invasion of weeds can destroy the benefits of reseeding.
The optimal time for weeds to be controlled within a new reseed is when grass is at the 2-3 leaf stage.
Fat hen, charlock, redshank and mayweed can cause problems within new reseeds in spring. Moreover, docks and chickweed are two of the most detrimental weed occurring in reseeds.
Frit Fly, Leatherjackets and slugs are the most prevalent pests in reseeded pastures.
While Frit Fly is most commonly seen in autumn reseeds, it can also occur when direct drilling has been carried out. Pastures reseeded after grass or cereals are most vulnerable to the invasion of Frit Fly.
Should you conduct a reseed in wet, heavy soils, there is a risk of an invasion of leather jackets. You can identify Leatherjacket damage by dead plants located on the soil’s surface.
Where wet weather occurs, a slug attack is possible in a newly reseeded pasture. Furthermore, high levels of thrash will also increase the possibility of a slug attack.
Alternative: reseeding in autumn
If your farm is currently not in a feasible position to reseed this spring, should that be due to cash flow or grazing challenges, you can choose to reseed in the autumn period.
Planning for reseeding is a critical management decision.
Moreover, with autumn reseeding, timing is critical. The latest you should sow a reseed is the first week of September.
Similar to spring, the weather is a hugely influential factor in successful reseeding. Should the weather conditions deteriorate, you may be limited by time constraints.
Autumnal reseeds are faced with problems in terms of pest invasion when compared to spring reseeding. Direct drilling can be problematic in autumn, allowing for the invasion of slugs and pests.
In comparison, ploughing reduces the likelihood of a pest invasion by burying pests and thrash. Ploughing will create a good seed/soil contact.
Soil sampling is a huge factor in ensuring a successful reseed. This test is crucial to determine what quantity of Potassium, Lime and Phosphorus are required for optimal soil functioning.
You should soil sample from every 5ha planned for reseeding. If ploughing, conduct soil sampling afterwards, to produce the most accurate result.
You can read more on everything you need to know about autumn reseeding.