Well-managed, nutrient-rich grassland provides valuable livestock feed. Modern grass varieties offer further room for improvement in under-performing pasture.
The first step to improving pasture is to assess soil condition, particularly compaction and nutrient status, to learn more visit the soil management page. Once the soil is in good condition, you can start to look at reseeding/over-sowing.
Is over-sowing an option?
Over-sowing is cheaper than a full reseed (approximately £70 – £80 per acre*) but the seed varieties need to be carefully considered as the new seeds will have to compete with existing grasses. Commercial trials have shown up to 40% more grass yield in the following year.
Over-sowing is useful when:
There are bare patches in the sward but you don’t want to plough
You want to introduce new grass or legume varieties into the sward
If you have established that your sward is not reaching its desired productivity and quality for any of the reasons below then a complete reseed might be the best option.
Percentage of originally sown species has reduced to under 50%
Poor annual yields e.g., below 5 tonnes of DM/ha, or less than 80% of what you expect
Too high weed content
Too little ryegrass content (i.e. below 30% rye grass)
Soil structure so poor that a ploughing is required
A complete reseed will only rectify these problems if good management is in place to prevent them happening again.
A reseed is expensive (approximately £200 per acre*) and time consuming but will certainly improve the sward, although take into account that the sward will be out of production for a while. Therefore it should only be considered once all other avenues of rejuvenation have been exhausted.
What costs are involved in a reseed?
Labour and fuel
Amount of herbicide used to kill existing sward
New seed mixture
If your sward is performing well but you would like to increase the use of legumes you should visit the Fertility Building section of the SWARM Hub. You can find out more about: