In this article, It’s farming discusses the financial impact of reseeding in the spring this year, the importance of reseeding permanent pastures, fertilizer prices and slow grass growth, and managing your new reseeding.
Grass is the cheapest source of feed available to livestock keepers in Ireland.
In 2021, reseeding cost around €300/acre, which included spraying, fertilizer and lime, contractor fees, seed cost, etc.
With rising fertilizer and fuel prices, that figure will cost significantly more in 2022. Fuel prices have risen 32% in the past 12 months, according to the AA. Meanwhile, fertilizer prices have soared 134%.
As the quality of permanent pasture declines, it is recommended that paddocks be reseeded on your farm.
According to Teagasc, perennial ryegrass lawns produce 3 t DM/ha/year compared to permanent pastures, which have not been reseeded in recent years.
Additionally, the state agency has recommended reseeding paddocks with less than 40% perennial ryegrass content.
Importance of reseeding
Reseeding is an important management decision to increase overall farm productivity through the following;
- Increased live weight gain of animals;
- Ability to withstand higher loading rates;
- Regrowth faster;
- Early grass growth;
- Improved silage quality;
- Improved nitrogen use efficiency.
According to Teagasc, improving silage quality results in an increase in DMD percentage from 68 to 72. In turn, this improvement can reduce feed per meal by 1 kg/head/day.
There is no denying that high fertilizer prices will be a huge challenge for reseeding in 2022.
Figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics show that fertilizer prices have soared 134% since March 2021.
Moreover, these increases go hand in hand with the impact of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Both countries are global suppliers of fertilizers to Ireland.
With these unprecedented heightened financial strains, many farmers are struggling to cope with the financial viability of reseeding in the spring of 2022.
As a result, many cooperatives and traders have restricted the sale of fertilizers, with some farmers not having access to what they need.
During a media appearance on RTÉ News on March 15and, 2022, Dr. Kevin Hanrahan, Teagasc’s rural economics program manager, said there will definitely be fertilizer shortages. However, he stressed that it is important that people do not panic buy.
Stunted grass growth
Stunted grass growth is also creating a challenge for farmers this spring. Farmers use the grass they currently have, before considering removing plots to reseed them.
Many farms in the North West of Ireland are seeing livestock still housed in April, with grass growing slowly this spring compared to previous years.
When reseeding in the spring, the optimal time for the grassland to return to production is around 60 days. A farmer must be prepared to wait out this spring grassless period without using pasture for production.
Typically, some farmers delay reseeding pastures because they consider the non-productive period to be too long.
However, it should be noted that the time taken to bring the pasture back into production is faster in the spring than in the fall.
Once the roots have strengthened and you can pull the grass without the roots also pulling, you can graze the seeds. Short grazing intervals with young animals or sheep will encourage tillering while reducing surface damage in the field.
An important factor in relation to reseeding is weed control management. Weed invasion can destroy the benefits of reseeding.
The optimal time to control weeds in a new seedling is when the grass is in the 2-3 leaf stage.
Fat hen, charlock, redshank and chamomile can cause problems in new seeds in the spring. Additionally, docks and chickweed are two of the most noxious weeds present in reseeding.
Frit Fly, Leatherjackets and slugs are the most common pests in reseeded pastures.
While Frit Fly is most commonly seen in fall reseeding, it can also occur when direct seeding has been done. Pastures reseeded after grass or cereals are most vulnerable to Frit Fly invasion.
If you are reseeding in wet, heavy soils, there is a risk of leather jacket invasion. You can identify Leatherjacket damage by dead plants on the soil surface.
In wet weather, a slug attack is possible in a newly reseeded pasture. Additionally, high levels of thrash will also increase the possibility of a slug attack.
Alternative: reseeding in the fall
If your farm is currently unable to reseed this spring, whether it is due to cash flow or grazing issues, you may choose to reseed in the fall.
Reseeding planning is a critical management decision.
Also, with fall reseeding, timing is critical. The latest you should sow a seed is the first week of September.
As in spring, weather is an extremely influential factor for successful reseeding. If the weather conditions deteriorate, you may be limited by time constraints.
Fall reseeding faces pest invasion issues compared to spring reseeding. Direct seeding can be problematic in the fall, allowing the invasion of slugs and pests.
In comparison, plowing reduces the likelihood of a pest invasion by burying pests and trash. Plowing will create good seed/soil contact.
Soil sampling is an important factor in ensuring successful reseeding. This test is crucial in determining how much potassium, lime and phosphorus is needed for optimal soil functioning.
You should take a soil sample every 5 ha planned for reseeding. If you are plowing, sample the soil afterwards, to produce the most accurate result.
You can read more about everything you need to know about fall reseeding.