Currently only 5% of agricultural grassland is reseeded and permanent grass leys plays a significant role in UK production. Well managed grass is the lowest cost feed for ruminants. Renewing swards regularly is important to maximise poductivity and maintain feed quality.
As grass varieties are constantly improved, reseeding can produce over £500/acre potential extra milk production. Using new improved varieties can give 33% more yield than a typical five year ley. Over the next four years, DM yield will be 10% higher.
The benefits of a new ley can last many years over an existing one. However, over time these benefits will decline. The rate that a ley declines will depend on:
Nutrition - Maintaining the swards nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur requirements.
Soil health - Maintaining correct soil pH and avoiding compaction.
Weed Control - Maintaining an appropriate weed control programme
Grassland Management - reducing ingress of native species (weed grasses) which are of lower production and nutritional quality.
The amount of ryegrass (or other sown species) is a better indicator for a need to reseed than the actual age of the ley. As the ley increases in age, the yield potential falls to as much as 50% after five years. Reseeding should be considered before sown species fall below 50%. Weed grasses e.g annual meadow grass make up the rest. These offer less yield, poor feed quality and low response to nitrogen.
Although there is obviously a cost in reseeding this will be quickly gained back in extra milk or meat produced. It is also important to address other issues that might reduce output, before reseeding, to ensure maximum benefit.
4000kgDM/acre x extra 1 MJ/kgDM quality (11MJ/kgDM ‘v’ old ley@ 10MJ) = 4000MJ/acre extra
Plus yield 20% DM/acre = 800kgDM@11MJ/kg DM = 8800MJ/acre
At 40p / L = £966 / acre additional milk
By selecting a recommended listed grass mix you will benefitfrom scientifically proven yield benefits and allows you to capitalise on the strengths of different species.
Using the recommended list provides information on the best performing grasses and clovers available. Varieties on the list have been independently tested.
The recommended list allows selection for quality:
Yield and quality performance - Dry matter and energy.
Field performance - Disease resistance and persistence.
Feed performance - Grass fibre (NDF), cell wall digestibility (CWD), water soluble carbohydrate (WSC), protein
Select a mix for your system e.g silage only, grazing only or dual purpose.
Other costs may include liming, seed bed fertiliser, spraying, finance charges, bringing the cost to £225-£275 per acre. However, some of these are annual costs when not reseeding.
*NAAC 2022 costs
For more information about the benefits of reseeding or for advice on maximising your farm’s forage please speak to your local ForFarmers account manager or contact one of our Forage Specialists today:
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Scrupulous attention to grass production and a move to block calving have enabled Dorset farmer Tom Marsh to maximise milk from forage despite the challenges posed by organic production and drought.
Grass is the most important resource to a dairy enterprise and maximising use of grazed grass can offer a huge opportunity to increase profits. With production costs rising, focusing on growing and utilising more, high quality grazed grass will reduce the requirements on purchased feed which in turn, will improve profit.
We have a wealth of expertise within our UK team. Let our youngstock, forage and nutritional specialists help you and your business.
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