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Timing is critical when it comes to Autumn reseeding. Planning is of the essence and may prove somewhat more pronounced this year given the drought/near drought conditions experienced throughout the island in late May/early June.

Reseeding in Autumn presents more difficulties than carrying out the same job in the early summer. As has long been the established norm, sowing grass/clover seed beyond the first week of September remains actively discouraged for a number of reasons.

These include:

  • The shorter daylight hours and falling soil temperatures which hinder germination and also make it tougher to establish a firm seed bed;
  • An increased risk of unwanted attention from a range of pests (i.e. slugs, fruit flies, rabbits, etc) and
  • Less frequent opportunities for pre-winter grazing or the use of post-emergence spray.


Steps to a successful autumn reseeding

Grassland farmers who intend to reseed a field but haven’t sprayed off the ground by late August should consider putting such work off until the following April/May period. Developing a fertiliser plan sows the seeds – pun fully intended – for maximising total grass yield. Ensuring your soil contains the main nutrients for optimum grass growth is essential.

With this in mind, we recommend soil sampling every three to five years to ensure your soil is receiving those key nutrients, which will also provide the necessary data required to correct any nutritional deficiencies. This is also critical when planning to reseed, for the seed to germinate and to ensure good root establishment.

Soil testing for Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) and pH (Lime Requirement) is also recommended prior to reseeding. A soil sample following ploughing (not beforehand) is also recommended before consulting an advisor about your liming/fertiliser programme. Bringing the pH up to 6.3 for mineral soils and P and K indices up to (and maintained at) soil index 3 is recommended.

When putting a fertiliser plan in place, it’s important to take the offtakes of nutrients from the soil by the animal or the crops into account. A milking cow can retain up to 19kg/ha of P and 36kg/ha of K while a cereal crop can retain on average 3.8kg/ha of P and 12.9kg/ha of K when straw is removed.


Target Fertilisers 

The Terra Range provides a sustainable fertiliser solution for farmers. We are constantly looking at methods of maximising production through environmentally-friendly and efficient uses of fertiliser. This led us to work alongside Brandon Biosciences to develop a new range of sustainable fertiliser products, including – the Terra Range – which includes a bio-stimulant, PSI-362.

This bio-stimulant is an extract from brown seaweed and stimulates the nitrate transponders in the plant to take up more of the available nitrogen in the soil than they would normally do. The extra nitrates taken up are converted into amino acids which produce more chlorophyll, boosting photosynthesis levels. This means we get similar biomass levels produced even with 25% less N as well as seeing higher dry matter levels in the crop afterwards.

If introducing clover, a full re-seed has long been identified as the primary mechanism of introducing clover into a sward, particularly for red clover leys. This also applies in denser pastures such as those featuring sheep. Using clover seed on existing pastures provides a 75% success rate at farm level; however, sward management both before and after over-sowing is essential.The appropriate time to apply early Nitrogen (N) depends on your requirement for grass and your intended grazing start date. As the response time for N following application is approximately three weeks, it is recommended to apply N three weeks before your intended grazing start date.

Grass growth initiates once soil temperatures reach five to six degrees centigrade. But the opportunity to apply fertiliser will depend both on ground conditions and the forecasted weather. Therefore, the ground must be firm upon application and not subject to wheel damage which will cause ruts and the risk of compaction.

It isn’t recommended to apply N prior or during expected high rainfall events due to the risk of de-nitrification/run-off. It’s also best to avoid application during a period of severe frost cover due to the risk of grass burning at the tyre tracks.

Best practice recommends the application of Urea just before four to five millimetres of rain is forecast within the next 12 hours to ensure good soil incorporation.

Target Fertilisers provide technical advice and recommendations through your local merchant or Co-op for a range of issues including grassland yield/quality and fertiliser planning for both grazing and silage platforms.

We can work with you to develop specifically customised blends which suit your current grassland and soil requirements.


To browse our Terra Range of sustainable products, click here

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