2014-12-29   facebook twitter rss

Make Grassland Improvement Your New Year’s Resolution

Improved performance from grassland is one of the best ways to combat milk and meat price volatility, so a stronger commitment to reseeding should be top of livestock farmers’ lists of resolutions this New Year.

This is the view of Helen Mathieu of Germinal, who urges farmers to identify their poorest performing leys at the earliest opportunity and adopt a best practice approach to reseeding during the coming year.

Silage Making

photo: Farm Images

"The rewards from renewing grassland will typically include improvements in feed value, higher dry matter intakes, better responses to fertiliser and greater stocking densities,” she says. “My advice is always to go the extra mile with seed bed preparation, soil nutrient supply, seeds mixture selection and drilling – it will pay dividends.”

Adopting best practice with a full grass reseed may cost £200 to £250 per acre, but this sum is easily recovered when the impact of the additional feed value created is taken into account.

“As a conservative estimate, a new ley comprising of the best performing ryegrass varieties from the Recommended List will produce at least anextra one tonne of extra dry matter per acre in the year when compared with an 8-10 year old pasture,” adds Helen. “In addition, because the newly sown ryegrass will have superior quality we can expect forage to be 5–10 D-value points higher. Independent studies have shown that where enough grass is available to satisfy increased appetite, each additional D-value unit increases milk yield in dairy cows by around 0.25litres/cow/day, whilst the positive impact on growth rates equates to 40g/head/day and 20g/head/day in beef cattle and lambs respectively.

“The combination of extra dry matter and higher quality forage will easily pay for the reseed in the first year, and the benefits should then continue with a medium term ley for 5–7 years under the right management – but without the costs to set against them.

“For most livestock farmers, maintaining the quality and productivity of their grassland will help control production costs by reducing reliance on bought-in feeds. The greater self sufficiency that results will help businesses to deal with market price volatility.”

Germinal

   
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