An INDEX 1 field will have less than 25% sown productive species left and the ryegrass that remains will be of very poor quality. The gaps created by the disappearing ryegrass have been filled up with broad-leaved weeds and weed grasses like annual meadowgrass, Yorkshire fog, bentgrasses, chewings fescue and strong creeping red fescue. All these weed grasses are totally unproductive to the field, delivering less than 25% of what perennial ryegrass will produce. An index 1 field will deteriorate quicker than other fields as it is not wear tolerant, so will not be able to resist poaching by grazing animals.
WHAT THIS MEANS
A field with a classification of INDEX 1 is not nutritious, has no feed value and is therefore of no use to ruminant livestock.
An INDEX 2 field will have less than 40% sown, productive species with less than 10% clover (if sown), coupled with more than 40% weed content or gaps. The sward will be very open. There is some ryegrass left in the field, but it is of very poor quality. This could be because of a number of factors including poor weather or a lack of density in the existing sward.
WHAT THIS MEANS
A field at INDEX 2 needs to be looked at immediately. If something is not done with this field very soon it will be a complete write-off.
An INDEX 3 field will have a total of 50-60% sown, productive species (including any clover at less than 10%, if sown). It will also have approximately 40% weeds or gaps. There will be docks covering around 20-25% of the field and at this level it means you are losing up to a quarter of yield from it.
The goal is to achieve as dense a sward as possible to eliminate any invasion of unproductive species. An INDEX 4 field will have a total of 60-70% sown, productive species (with ryegrass content of 60-70%, and clover making up 30-40% of the plant population). If these levels of productive species content are achieved the clover will be adding 170-220kg N/ha/yr, coupled with a high protein content of 27%, which helps ensure high animal performance.
New export record in 2019/20
110,000 tons of Danish grass- and clover seeds were exported in 2019/20, which shattered last years' record, according to Landbrugsavisen and statistics from Statistics Denmark and Danish Agriculture and food council
For the second year running, the export of grass- and clover seeds from Denmark surpassed 100,000 tons to countries worldwide with a temperate climate. The record beats last years' export record with an increase of approximately 5 per cent, to about 110,000 tons. It is very pleasing that the export reaches these new hights despite the challenges in producing pure seeds in Denmark and of course the corona-crisis.
Søren Halbye, CCO in DLF and chairman of the board of the trade association Dansk Frø says:
- We must continue to utilize our knowledge and position of strength to ensure good yields and good quality seeds for the market. Therefore, working closely with scientists, the advisory service and the seed industry is necessary, in order to continue producing our seeds competitively in Denmark.
Denmark is the world's largest seed exporting country. About 80 pct. of exports are sold to EU countries, where the largest buyers are Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The seed is used for forage grasslands for cattle and other livestock as well as for private and professional lawns.
August is the perfect time to introduce clover back into the sward to reap the benefits that this excellent forage species provides
Too many grazing mixtures are lacking white clover, either because it was never in the mixture, or because it has been killed out when using herbicides to control other broad-leaved weeds.
A bundle of benefits
But producers are missing a trick. This forage species brings a bundle of benefits.
Alongside increased yields, white clover improves forage quality and, on the back of this, milk yields and solids.
Irish research has shown that incorporating clover increased milk yield by 13.3% and milk solids by 13.4%. Also, dry matter production was 16.8% greater on grass-clover swards, compared with grass-only swards.
And with sustainability being an increasingly important factor, this legume fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere and reduces the crop’s reliance on inorganic fertilisers.
A sward with a ground cover of between 20% and 30% clover species can fix 180kg of nitrogen per hectare, equivalent to 522kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser. At today’s fertiliser prices that’s worth around £120 per hectare.
White clover’s growth pattern is complementary to grass and a grass-clover mix provides a more consistent crop through the summer, compared with only grass species. The varying root depths means that a grass/white clover ley will be more drought-resilient than one with grass only species.
Adding white clover
White clover is best sown in warm, wet conditions and ideally not when grass is growing rapidly. So late summer and after a silage cut or grazing is ideal.
Natural clover seed is very small and light, so a pelleted seed, such as CloverPlus, will promote successful establishment through better soil to seed contact or a more even coverage if broadcasting.
A pellet increases the weight and size of the seed, making equipment calibration easier and giving a more consistent spread pattern if broadcast. The additional pellet weight ensures that more seed gets through the sward to give maximum soil-to-seed contact.
Importantly, CloverPlus is treated with the biological seed treatment Headstart Gold. This is proven to speed up germination and improve establishment.
As we approach late summer, this is a timely opportunity to add white clover to grass swards and reap the benefits on your dairy unit.
NUTRIFIBRE The perfect solution for grass production on dry land and drought prone soils
The perfect solution for grass production on dry land and drought prone soils
Combining the Tetraploid benefits of Seagoe perennial ryegrass with Soft Leaved tall fescue
NitriFibre technology combines mineral efficiency, high protein production, digestibility, effective fibre-rich cell walls and drought tolerance from its deep rooting ability of soft-leaf tall fescue
The foundation of NutriFibre is soft-leaf tall fescue, a development stemming from the Royal Barenbrug Group’s international breeding programme ‘Grass for highly productive dairy cattle’. NutriFibre technology combines mineral effi ciency, high protein production, digestible, effective fi bre-rich cell walls and rooting intensity. The interaction of these individual properties has a mutually enhancing effect that results in exceptionally high quality silage. This gives the specifi c combination a value worth more than the sum of its parts. The new grass technology based on soft-leaf tall fescue has been extensively trialled in a diverse range of conditions, soil types and different farm management systems.
Combining the Tetraploid benefits of Seagoe perennial ryegrass with soft leaved tall fescue. The foundation of NutriFibre is soft-leaf tall fescue, a development stemming from the Royal Barenbrug Group's international breeding programme. Nutrifibre technology combines mineral efficiency, high protein production, digestibility, effective fibre-rich cell walls and drought tolerance from its deep rooting ability of soft-leaf tall fescue.
High Yielding Grass because NutriFiber is high-yielding and rich in protein
Drought Tolerant Grass because NutriFibre roots deeply
Nutrient Efficient Grass because NutriFibre uses minerals from deeper layers in the soil
Effective Fibre Grass because NutriFibre provides effective fibre giving optimal roughage in the diet
WHEN TO SOW
The soil temperature should be above 12°C at the time of sowing; it is advisable to sow NitriFibre between March 1st and September 15th.
After sowing, NutriFibre puts a lot of energy into the development of its root system. This explains why NutriFibre has a slower start that other grasses in the first year. After developing a solid underground system, the grass yield is high.
FLEXIBILITY IN CUTTIG TIMES
Cutting times are flexible because the quality of the feed value of NutriFibre decreases more slowly when the crop matures than with perennial ryegrass or festulolium. This makes farmers less dependent on the weather, providing a better guarantee for making successful silage.
Soft-leaf tall fescue is tolerant to long periods of drought. During dry periods the grass is able to absorb water from deeper layers in the soil. In the coming decades the probability of dry, hot summers will increase. NutriFibre is highly tolerant to these periods of drought thanks to its deep rooting ability. Soil permitting, Soft-leaf tall fescue roots can reach depths of more than 100cm. NutriFibre can therefore cope extremely well with periods of drought. It is ideal for dry, light land and drought prone soils as Soft-leaf tall fescue absorbs most water from its roots that are 20-30cm in depth compared to perennial ryegrass which absorbs most at 10cm.
Bar Tech August 2020 - Autumn Reseeding Hold your reseeds in the same esteem as heifers or ewe lambs; they are the future of your farm’s production.
Bar Tech August 2020 - Autumn Reseeding Autumn reseeding has been and continues to be very popular in the UK as the soil and air temperatures remain high and generally cool down at a steady rate. There is also a much-reduced risk of drought stress.
To get the best results, it requires a high level of attention to detail. Not only consider when you plan to sow, but also what species you want to sow and the local conditions where you are aiming to establish the grass crop. Hold your reseeds in the same esteem as heifers or ewe lambs, they are the future of your farm’s production.
Preparation is Key to Success
Having good soil health and available nutrients (particularly P & K) in the seed bed are vital for a successful reseed at any time of year. Fields destined for an autumn reseed should be soil sampled if they have not already been so, and any nutrient deficiencies addressed before putting seed in the soil. Please see Bar Tech February for more information on soil health.
When Should an Autumn Reseed be Carried Out?
An autumn reseed must also be carefully planned to take into account where you are in the country and what weather conditions are like, what grass species you will be sowing and how the field’s soil type will influence the timing.
Perennial grasses and clovers require soil temperatures of 8OC and 10OC respectively for optimal germination and plant establishment. Hybrid Ryegrasses require 6OC and Italians or Westerwolds 4OC but just because these species CAN germinate at these temperatures does not mean it is best practice to wait; sowing sooner will give a longer window for establishment. Sooner is always better than later.
Heavier soils are prone to holding onto water and cooling down quicker than sandy soils so the window for reseeding those fields can be shorter and generally, the reseeding window is shorter the further north you travel. Bear in mind that although conditions can still be excellent for reseeding, in autumn we are always in a declining temperature and increasing rainfall trend and any delay can cause significant impacts to the number of established plants, the extent of plant tillering, the potential dry matter yields and overall sward longevity.
The Seed Bed
Seedbeds MUST be fine and firm, rolled well, before and after seeding to ensure excellent seed/soil contact which aids germination. A well-rolled seedbed can potentially reduce the risk of damage from pests such as leatherjackets by restricting their movement in the soil.
Autumn Grazing & Management
Ideally, all autumn-sown reseeds will be established in plenty of time to allow a light autumn graze. This grazing is not about feeding animals, but about managing the grass sward.
Doing a light grazing using the lightest class of stock available on the farm will encourage tillering by allowing light to reach the base of the plants and prevent too much-overwintered cover that can cause a build-up of dead material in the base of the sward.
To ascertain if a sward is ready to be grazed a ‘Pluck Test’ should be carried out; grasp the ryegrass seedling firmly between your thumb and forefinger, then tug in a single, quick movement (to mimic an animal biting). If the leaves break off and the roots stay in the ground, the pluck test is passed. Also, make sure that the ground is firm enough to carry stock and never graze before the grass plants have produced their second tiller leaf. Always leave a residual height of 4-5cm.
For further advice on grass and grassland management, download a copy of the Barenbrug Good Grass Guide which can also be used as a field record guide.
Barenbrug are delighted to announce the additions of four new varieties to the latest edition of the SRUC Grass and Clover Varieties for Scotland List 2020/2021. With the new additions, Barenbrug have bred 31 of the 1st choice varieties listed.
Joining the list are Strangford, an intermediate diploid perennial ryegrass, Ballyvoy, a late diploid perennial ryegrass, Gracehill, a late tetraploid perennial ryegrass and Baronaise, a timothy.
Strangford has an REE of 35 and provides large volumes of forage under both conservation and grazing management with a total cutting yield of 109% and Grazing yield of 111%. It is matched with excellent quality. Strangford provides very good early grazing and first cut yields making it a very important variety for Scottish grass and livestock producers.
Ballyvoy has an REE of 47 and provides excellent spring yields with a first cut of 111% and early spring grazing of 113%. Overall yields are particularly strong under cutting management with a total yield of 106%. Quality is also good, particularly under grazing (76.7D) and a first cut of 70.4.
Gracehill also has an REE of 47 and is a consistent performer for both cutting (101%) and grazing (103%). A first cut yield of 113% and 70D is followed by a 2nd cut of 103% and 73.5D and a 3rd cut of 103%. First cut D value is 70.8 and under grazing, the D value is 76.9.
Strangford, Ballyvoy and Gracehill all come from the highly successful British breeding programme partnership between Barenbrug and the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland (AFBI). Grass Breeder Dr Gillian Young comments: “These varieties are excellent all-around performers across the season, producing high annual yields of good quality grass under both grazing and silage management. Ballyvoy though, is particularly strong, topping its class for metabolizable energy yield per hectare under silage management whilst Strangford contributes high forage yields under either management. Ballyvoy, Strangford and Gracehill are outstanding varieties that will no doubt feature strongly in both cutting and grazing mixtures well into the future. Ballyvoy and Gracehill were also added to the English and Welsh Recommended List earlier this month too.”
The new Timothy addition Baronaise has an REE of 58 making it the latest heading variety in this limited group. The variety provides good overall yields under both management, grazing 109% and cutting average 103% with particularly good yields in the autumn and it has very good quality. Baronaise was bred in Barenbrug Holland by Marcel Van Nes at our breeding station based in Wolfheze, he comments “Baronaise was first crossed in 2004 and is a good improvement in yield and persistency. It will be an important variety across Northern Europe.”
Download the Forage Variety Profile for Gracehill
Download the Forage Variety Profile for Ballyvoy
Download the Forage Variety Profile for Baronaise