Sward Repair

With the recent wet and snowy weather behind us now (hopefully), attention needs to focus on repairing damaged swards.  Damaged swards can produce >20% less dry matter in a year compared to a sward in good health.  Repairing may require a full reseed, but often over seeding or direct drilling can be just as effective.

The type of action required depends on the level of damage.  If poaching is only a couple of inches deep, this will fix itself after the next couple of grazings or with a pass of a grass aerator, not a roller.  I say not a roller as this will just squash down what is already potentially a compacted top soil and reduce oxygen levels in the soil, reducing soil microbe and earth worm activity, (these two are key to nutrient release in the soil).

Deeper poaching may require a more aggressive approach, but before you jump for the plough consider other options.  Ploughing is great for burying trash/weeds and removing top soil compaction.  The problem with ploughing is it can also bring up new weed seeds and heavy/infertile subsoil, burying the good quality top soil and organic matter out of reach of the plant.  In some cases, ploughing is the only option, but there is often an opportunity to either minimum till the field or direct drill after spraying off.

A number of our clients have moved away from the plough now and use a sward lifter and heavy duty cultivator to make a rough seedbed.  They follow this with either direct drill or use a seed box on grass harrows to sow the grass seed.  They subsequently roll to gain a good seed to soil contact.  This option is around two thirds of the cost of ploughing, is a much quicker operation, doesn’t bring up fresh weed seeds and doesn’t bury the good quality top soil and organic matter away from the new plants.

If you would like some help planning a reseeding program or how best to establish grass, contact Phil Cooper at pcooper@fcgagric.com.  Or contact Andrew Jones at andrew@davidbardgett.co.uk if you would like to discuss grass seed varieties for your reseeding program.

Posted in Arable & Crops, Business Management, Diverse Swards Group, Sherborne.