On average, only about 2.9% of potentially good grassland is reseeded annually.
Reseeding should be at four times this level (10%) to bring our national grass production up to what is required for reaching the 2020 targets for dairy and beef production.
The amount of ground reseeded any year varies by up to 50%, largely depending on the weather and the economic situation on farms.
Most farmers realise the value of reseeding but, according to seed merchants, reseeding has been a little below average so far this year.
However, it is expected that there will be a big increase this August, if the weather is favourable. Of course, the low price of milk will be a barrier in some situations.
Teagasc surveys have indicated that many Irish pastures are producing 50% less than their potential.
Based on research by Moorepark researcher, Michael O’Donovan, there is huge variation in grass dry matter production on farms. He says that there is up to 50% difference between farms, and 60% within farms.
The key factor is the level of perennial ryegrass within pastures. Of course, poor soil fertility, soil type, and poor management will also significantly reduce grass production and utilisation. Over 90% of soil samples are deficient in either P, K or lime.
But, with pressure on farmers to increase production and efficiency, and the high price of fertilisers and other rising costs, reseeding pastures that have a low level of perennial ryegrass has become more important than ever. Farmers cannot afford to be applying fertiliser that gives a poor response on poor pastures.
Advantages of reseeding
* Potential 35% increase in yields of grass and silage, and 20% higher digestibility (yield improvement depends on how bad the old pasture was, and how well reseeding is done).
* Better response to fertilisers (25% better response to nitrogen)
* Better seasonal growth, better animal performance; higher milk yields, higher milk protein (+0.2%), and live weight gain.
* Better quality silage (adding 10 units of DMD), easier to preserve, big savings in concentrate requirements (60 cent per animal per day).
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