‘Re­seed­ing has given us an ex­tra 4.5 tonnes of grass per hectare

Meath farmer Peter Mongey has been re­seed­ing a por­tion of his land for over 20 years and says that as the qual­ity of re­seeds has im­proved, so too have yields, re­ports Michael Keav­eny

Irish Independent - Farming - - RESEEDING -

How much re­seed­ing do you do ev­ery year?

I try to re­seed 10-15pc of my milk­ing plat­form ev­ery year in the spring. My silage ground is away from my milk­ing plat­form, so I aim to re­seed it all in one go ev­ery five or six years, after the third cut of silage in September. Be­cause it’s away from the milk­ing block we do it all to­gether to keep things fresh.

In the years we re­seed the silage ground, we cut silage a lit­tle bit ear­lier, and then it’s closed un­til the spring. It’s not a big or­deal to do the out farms, it’s more dif­fi­cult to get the plat­form done.

Why did you start re­seed­ing?

I started re­seed­ing 20 years ago. I used to work part-time for a local seed mer­chant called Tom McGuin­ness.

Ben­e­fits:

Peter Mongey says he could see an immediate im­prove­ment in milk vol­umes after be­gin­ning to re­seed part of his milk­ing plat­form

I used to de­liver seed and you could see farm­ers who were re­seed­ing ev­ery year and the ben­e­fit that they were get­ting from it so it was a no brainer that we should be do­ing it as well. Work­ing with Tom I was get­ting the best seeds, the most up to date in­for­ma­tion and I could see what worked for oth­ers.

I buy from him now. He lives nearby and knows all my fields very well and can offer me the best, tailored ad­vice on each pad­dock. We’ve been get­ting him so long he knows our land as well as we do.

What meth­ods do you use for re­seed­ing?

Orig­i­nally, we were plough­ing all our re­seeds but now we just burn off fields us­ing round up and stitch it in. I haven’t used a plough in 12 years un­less a field has been badly poached. With stitch­ing the grass comes back a lot quicker. There is no stone pick­ing as well.

With plough­ing, there was a good bit more weed af­ter­wards as well. When I started stitch­ing, I found I didn’t have to use a post-emer­gence spray.

I use a kilo of clover with each seed mix and I find sprays that are clover friendly aren’t that pow­er­ful any­way. The farm is very clean from weeds.

When I’m re­seed­ing a field, I let it grow a lit­tle bit stronger than I would if I was graz­ing it, maybe with a cover of 1600kg. I burn it off, leave it for five days and ei­ther graze it or bale it, then we’re ready to go.

After re­seed­ing we might do a light graz­ing on it after three weeks. But it is usu­ally be­tween 5-7 weeks by the time we can get back in on a re­seeded pad­dock for a full graz­ing of 1400 kg. I in­clude at least four grass va­ri­eties in the mix so if one fails there are oth­ers there.

What are the main ben­e­fits you’ve seen from re­seed­ing?

I started grass mea­sur­ing in 2007 and back then we were grow­ing 13 tonnes of grass per hectare.

But as the qual­ity of re­seeds has im­proved our grass growth has in­creased. Now we grow 17.5 tonne on av­er­age, it’s maxed out at that.

When we started re­seed­ing, we had a small plat­form of 10 Ha with 50 cows. It was hard to take a piece out for re­seed­ing be­cause we were

heav­ily stocked, we used to have to buf­fer feed for a while. But I could see the ben­e­fits of it im­me­di­ately. Once the cows went back into it they gave more milk. We made a pri­or­ity to do more. Get­ting the ini­tial start was the hardest part, but as we re­seeded more, we were grow­ing more so that took the pres­sure off over time.

We had 10 ha in our orig­i­nal plat­form, and we were able to add to this by buying more land and do­ing a land swap. This en­abled us to join up the milk­ing plat­form with the rented land to in­crease the over all plat­form to 29 ha. The rented land wasn’t part of the plat­form, but the new land en­abled us to con­nect it to the plat­form.

This in­crease in land en­abled me to in­crease my milk­ing herd from 50 to 110 cows.

I got a heifer rearer in Ju­lianstown Co. Meath which en­abled me to open the whole plat­form for the milk­ing cows. I’ve had to in­crease my fa­cil­i­ties, I’ve built new road­ways, ex­tended the milk­ing par­lour, in­creased slurry stor­age, ex­tended road­ways, etc. It’s only started hum­ming this past few years.

How im­por­tant is pH for re­seed­ing?

We re­seeded the out block a few years ago. One of the pad­docks in the block didn’t per­form as well as other fields be­side it that were re­seeded at the same time. The pH wasn’t good enough in it. So we worked hard on im­prov­ing the soil fer­til­ity, by adding lime. It did ok for a year but it never re­ally came up to scratch. In the end, we ended up hav­ing to re­seed it again. Re­seed­ing may tem­po­rar­ily paper over the cracks but pH is vi­tal if you want your re­seed to progress

(pic­tured be­low)

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