Do Your Grass Leys Suit Your Farm?

Typically, the grass-seed mixtures used on farms are very similar and are predominantly made up of three or four different grass species.  Very little consideration is given to using alternative grass species or specific grass mixtures to match the farming system you operate or other variables such as soil type, stocking rate etc.

Is your farm in a high rainfall area, or on marginal or heavy ground? If so, the ability to utilise the grass should take precedent over production or total dry matter yield.  Grass leys on these farms will often consist of long-term leys which are dominated by diploids.  When you are re-seeding such pastures, consideration should be given to varieties that have been selected for having high ground cover scores as well as yield and D-value.  Open leys are very difficult to manage in wet autumns and springs, therefore including grass varieties with high ground cover will often be rewarded by reducing soil and sward damage.

Timothy is often overlooked as an option in grass mixes, simply due to its yields being typically lower than perennial ryegrass.  However, in wet areas with slow springs, Timothy could be beneficial in a sward mixture as it will provide good winter hardiness and ground cover for early spring grazing.  It is also well suited for rotational grazing systems where covers are carried over the winter providing valuable spring growth.

On very marginal areas where ryegrass-based leys always struggle, and soft rush consistently returns there may be merit in looking at longer-term grass leys that have a high inclusion of Timothy and fescues.  These leys will suit rotational grazing and if well-established and tillered, they will restrict the infestation of soft rush.

To discuss which grass leys may best suit your farm please contact Huw at huwthomas@fcgagric.com or your local FCG office.

Posted in Arable & Crops, Business Management, Chippenham.