|1||Dig a soil assessment pit to look for compaction and plant rooting structure, which should go 30cm deep in a perennial ryegrass/ Timothy sward.|
Address compaction with aerators or sub-soilers as needed.
|2||Soil testing (4” deep) would also be advantageous as high levels of water can leach nutrients and reduce pH significantly.|
Assess what plants are there – learn to identify what species you want to have e.g. perennial ryegrass/Timothy. Check for weed grasses,
they are usually shallow rooted and pull out very easily.
If they make up more than 30% of the sward, harrow hard to remove them.
With a sward of more than 70% weed grasses the best option is to reseed the sward.
|3||Minimise competition to new seedlings by grazing tightly with sheep or taking a silage cut. DO NOT fertilise before overseeding.|
|4||Control perennial weeds before seeding by spraying with a selective herbicide.|
|5||Use a spring tine harrow to remove any dead stalks, thatch and shallow rooted weed grasses. Make sure that the tines are working the top 1cm of the soil as this will create the seed bed for the new seeds.|
|6||Choose a grass seed mixture designed for the job.|
Sow when the soil conditions are neither excessively dry nor wet and use a specialist mixture designed to establish rapidly.
|7||Roll the sward to ensure good seed contact with the soil to conserve moisture.|
|8||Graze lightly when the seedlings are 10cm high and continue at frequent intervals until the plants are well established.|
There is no set cut-off date for drilling a cover crop. “All suitable species will romp away once soils are warming up, so in most cases you can wait until soils are capable of carrying machinery without damage.”Planting the right cover crop will deliver substantial benefits even if it is only in the ground for a couple of months, although the longer it is left, the more good it will do, she says.
Rye and black oats have more fibrous root systems that condition and draw moisture out of the mid and upper soil layers.“If you grow oilseed rape use our oilseed radish, Terranova, which is resistant to clubroot,” says Helen.