DLF grass breeder held a focus event on DLF Grass Partner Michael and Bernie O Sullivan’s Farm in Castleisland, Kerry with Grasstec and Teagasc today. Key topics covered at the event were; soil nutrition, with an emphasis on P K & Lime, grassland management, residuals, regrowth and covers and finally grass varieties. Michael is one of four farmers within the DLF Grass Partner Program aimed at improving grassland utilisation with specific concentration on ryegrass varietal performance. Michael has been using DLF varieties since 2016 and after joining the DLF Grass Partner Program in 2018 has begun sowing individual varieties of perennial ryegrass and feeding the performance data back into the partner program.
Earlier this year DLF announced the introduction of the Grasstec Group to the Partner program as the official independent ‘analysis partner’. Grasstec’s grass measuring team have been visiting DLF’s partner farms on a regular basis to measure and record grassland, with a particular emphasis on capturing data around the progression of DLF’s latest varieties. Noel Gowan spoke on the Day “there are four rules of grassland management, that pertaining to residuals, rotation length, protecting regrowth and pregrazing covers.”
Speaking at the event DLF General Manager Paul Flanagan said “What is happening on Michaels farm & the other three partner farms is essentially an extension to our research program. We analyse roughly 1,500 varieties every year in Waterford by mechanically cutting the plots with a Haldrup Harvester which indicates the key performers. What we are answering here on the partner farms is how those key performers do in front of cows as opposed to mechanically cutting. This year Michael is grazing a new DLF variety called Nashota which is not yet on the Irish recommended list or PPI. On paper from our Waterford trials and early department results, Nashota has the potential to be a market leader in Ireland. Here in Kerry, Michael and 110 black and white ladies will determine its grazing potential!
What we have seen so far from the work carried out on the partner farms very much mirrors the results from grazing studies published by Moorpark earlier this year where DLF varieties like Nifty, Aspect, Solas and Xenon have performed very well under actual grazing trials. Speaking at the event graze out and utilazation was essentially a theme. In his introduction Michael O Sullivan stated “We joined the Grass Partner program with DLF in 2018 because we wanted to get more from our farm and had confidence DLF could help us bring our goals to fruition”.
DLF have invested like no other in research since getting involved in the Irish market in 2015, having screened over 6,000 varieties to date for application in Ireland. “Nashota comes from our first round of trials in Ireland meaning we may have a winning variety with our first attempt from Irish trials. More interesting, is since then we have been selecting the parent lines in Ireland and crossing specifically for the Irish market. This Autumn we will sow varieties bred specifically for Ireland in Waterford trials. If our first attempt with Nashota has a chance of adding value to farmers like Michael here today, our Irish breeding efforts will ensure we continue to add value to Irish farmers for years to come” added DLF Paul Flanagan.
Launched in 2017 the “More Milk with DLF” Grass Partner programme is a long-term project that will aid the grassland utilisation for the four farmers involved. Here in Kerry Denis Brasil of Teagasc, Adam Heffernan of KFA and Noel Gowan have all played their part in working to make this happen for Farmers across the island of Ireland can follow the participating farmers progress on twitter @DLF_IRL, on Facebook @DLFIreland or sign-up to DLF’s newsletter by emailing email@example.com.
Every grassland farmer is well aware of the vigour and high level of production that can be achieved from a new reseed and also that inevitably through time, the sown grasses begin to disappear and the sward thins out and production suffers.
The decline of sown species is influenced by many different factors but on average by the time grass reaches 7or 8 years old, only around 60% of the sown species remain and 40% of the sward is either bare ground or occupied by weed grasses.
This deterioration not only affects yield but also has a significant effect on palatability, forage quality,
spring growth and the overall response to fertiliser inputs. When these are added together, the effect on both animal performance and the overall financial return is substantial and a sward with 40 – 50% bare ground or weed grass content can mean a loss of up to £300 per acre per year in feed value.
Recognising the need to maintain a high proportion of sown species in older grass and that a full reseed is not always practical, HF Seeds has developed the GrassMax system of overseeding which presents a real opportunity to restore production in tired or damaged swards to newly sown levels without the expense or disruption of a full reseed.
The GrassMax system of overseeding can also be used to introduce or increase clover levels in existing swards.
The key to successful overseeding lies in ensuring that the newly sown plants are capable of competing with the existing grass and that the germinating seedlings have sufficient vigour to establish successfully in what can be a very competitive environment. Increasing the competitiveness of the establishing plants can be achieved in three ways each of which has a cumulative effect in ensuring success.
1 - Minimise Competition from the Existing Sward
When the existing sward is growing strongly there is obviously more competition for the establishing seedlings. Consequently the timing of the actual overseeding operation and the subsequent fertiliser treatment are important factors to consider. The objective should be
to find a window during the season when the existing sward is short and is not growing strongly. Ideal conditions are provided after a hard graze or immediately after the last silage cut of the season. No fertiliser should be applied for at least 15 days after the overseeding
2 - Use a Mixture Designed for Overseeding
Large seeded grasses are more competitive in their establishment and all the HF GrassMax mixtures are comprised of Tetraploid. Hybrid and Perennial Ryegrasses specially selected for their establishment vigour. The use of these large seeded, aggressively
establishing grasses significantly increases their ability to compete with the existing sward.
3 - Use Mixtures Treated with iSeed® 50
Although conventional fertiliser application will increase the establishment vigour of the
new seedlings, its growth promotion effect on the existing sward is greater and competition
is increased to a level which often overwhelms the establishing plants. For 2014, all HF GrassMax mixtures are available with the unique and revolutionary iSeed® 50 treatment where every individual seed is coated with both nitrogen and phosphate. This unique targeted fertiliser concept feeds the sown seeds and not the surrounding sward and dramatically improves establishment vigour at the most crucial stage in the overseeding process. Extensive trials have shown that the uptake of iSeed® 50 fertiliser is four times more effective than conventional applications and have demonstrated establishment gains of up to 50% and substantial gains to both root and shoot development.