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Level II Agricultural Business Operations.  92% of agricultural land in Northern Ireland is in grass  Grass is the cheapest feed for dairy cows  Maximise.

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Presentation on theme: "Level II Agricultural Business Operations.  92% of agricultural land in Northern Ireland is in grass  Grass is the cheapest feed for dairy cows  Maximise."— Presentation transcript:

1 Level II Agricultural Business Operations

2  92% of agricultural land in Northern Ireland is in grass  Grass is the cheapest feed for dairy cows  Maximise grass output from every acre

3  Introduce more productive swards  Earlier grass growth  Increased grass yield  Better response from fertiliser nitrogen  Improved grass digestibility & palatability  Higher grass sugars and improved ensilibility

4  The sheaths and backs of the leaves are smooth and shiny  Red stem base  Upper surface of leaf is strongly ribbed


6 HighModerateLow PRGMeadow foxtailBent grass IRGRough stalked meadow grass Crested foxtail HybridsSmooth stalked meadow grass Yorkshire fog TimothyCocksfootAnnual meadow grass Meadow fescueRed fescueCouch grass White clover Red Clover

7  Walk a ‘W’ and assess at points how much PRG is in a sward.  If PRG below 70% - then some work to improve sward will be required  If PRG below 50% then reseed needs to be considered  If the percentage of broadleaved weeds is high, then take action

8 Before improving sward quality consider-  Cleaning sheughs  Drainage  Compaction  Soil fertility  pH  Fencing  Hedges

9 1. Sward Replacement – destruction of old sward and replacement by reseed (plough) 2. Sward Renovation - introduction of seed into an existing sward with minimum cultivation 3. Sward Rejuvenation - gradual improvement to sward by better management.

10  Required if % of PRG in sward is low  Most reliable method of replacing a sward  Spring reseed is usually end March to mid May  Autumn reseed between mid July to late August  Spring reseeds often have a heavier weed burden than late summer reseed


12  If high % of scutch/bent grasses or weeds like dock/thistles then old sward should be destroyed by Glyphosphate herbicide  Poor seedbed preparation is most common cause of failure  Seedbed to be fine and firm

13  Consolidate without compacting  Sow 6-12mm deep  Roll to maintain moisture in top layer of soil  Watch out for pests (slugs, frit fly, leatherjackets)

14  Alternative to conventional method of plough and reseed  Suitable for; 1. Stony soils 2. Heavy land that takes time to dry out 3. Where rapid establishment is required 4. Thin swards (silage ground)  Specialist drills/equipment required


16  Control perennial weeds before over-seeding  Minimise competition from existing sward. Graze hard or cut silage beforehand.  Prepare a shallow tilth by discing and/or harrowing prior to broadcasting or drilling of seed  Conditions need to be good (not too dry or wet)

17  Graze lightly when grass seedlings are 10cm high. Graze often for short periods thereafter.  Do not allow long intervals between grazings or closing for silage


19 Identification and correction of poor management practices-  Poor drainage  Poor soil fertility  Weeds  Under-stocking  Poor integration of cutting and grazing  Poaching  Excessive use of slurry  Compaction After these issues have been addressed consider reseeding/ stitching-in

20 Sward Replacement with ploughing Sward Replacement without ploughing Sward Renovation by stitching-in (Over-seeding) £/acre Soil analysis 111 Spray 23 Cultivations 674220 Seed & sow 98 64 Fertiliser - sowing 38 Lime – 2t + application 51 Total/acre 278253174


22  Factors to be considered 1. Sward life – short, medium or long term 2. Sward purpose – Grazing or cutting 3. Growth season/area – early, intermediate, late 4. Soil type – dry & light or heavy & wet

23  Use varieties with similar heading dates and dates which correspond with intended cutting date  Short term leys – use Italian ryegrass  Long term leys – perennial ryegrass  Clover inclusion of little benefit if intensive silage system (2-3 cuts)  Hybrids and tetraploids to be considered for high sugar content  Consider Timothy on heavier land


25  Mixture of 3-4 varieties is normal  Do not need to be similar heading date – can include intermediate and late varieties together  Persistence and ground cover are very important to ensure that sward lasts and can withstand poaching or trampling

26  Clover can have a role to play  Use mostly diploid varieties (more persistent)  Include some Timothy if ground is heavy  Always use from recommended lists

27  Why include clover?  Improves digestibility and intakes  Increased animal performance  Higher protein % than grass  Increased mineral content of sward  Can reduce need to spread chemical N fertiliser


29  Weeds cause economic loss in several ways; 1. Compete with grass for nutrients and light 2. Less area available for grass growth 3. Poorer quality silage 4. All lead to reduced animal performance

30  3 types of weed; 1. Annual weed – these complete their life cycle in one year from germination (e.g. Redshank) 2. Biennial – complete their life cycle in two years from germination (e.g. Ragwort) 3. Perennial – live year after year and develop strong underground roots (e.g. Docks)

31  Annual plant  Can be grazed out by cattle or sheep  Herbicides needed if high infestations in silage swards

32  Annual plant  Common in spring or early summer reseeds  Hard to graze out if becomes established  Spraying necessary if infestation is severe

33  Biennial plant  Develops leaves in first season  Flowers and grows to maturity in second season  Poisonous to livestock (in silage or dead)  Cutting not advised  Pulling or spraying best control

34  Perennial weed  Can spread by underground roots  Topping can help but not kill  Spraying best way to eradicate

35  Perennial weed  Develop deep tap roots and can spread quickly  Topping not effective control  Spraying required but often one spray programme not enough

36  Perennial weed  Common in acidic wet ground with low fertility  Repeated cutting gives some control  Spreading lime and improving fertility helps  Spraying very effective

37 Take care to ensure adequate:  Drainage and aeration  Soil fertility  Use of organic manures  Weed control  Stocking levels

38  Assess existing sward  Check for underlying problems  Select improvement method  Select suitable grass seed mixture  Careful management of new sward

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