With so many options now when it comes to reseeding such as red and white clover, plantain, multispecies, hybrid grasses and so on, it’s easy to get mithered by it all.
There are some fundamental issues that can never be ignored when it comes to reseeding.
The first is that reseeding is the last port of call when it comes to improving pasture yields. The first thing is to fix soil fertility or drainage issues.
Draining peat soils is not a runner because it increases emissions, but draining mineral soils reduces emissions so that is good. Only when underlying drainage or soil fertility issues are addressed should reseeding be considered by farmers.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that there is a dearth of information on some of the new species on the market. On the one hand, you have the Department of Agriculture incentivising farmers to sow red clover and multispecies swards.
On the other hand, they are not carrying out any variety trials on red clover, plantain or chicory – each of which are required to be sown in the multispecies sward.
There have also been no updates to the grass and white clover recommended lists for 2023. This is the first time in decades that no new list has been published.
The grass and white clover variety trials conducted by the Department are a wonderful source of unbiased, independent data on variety performance.
Apparently, a lack of resources has meant that the 2023 list will be delayed to later this year and combined with the 2024 list. It’s disappointing to see less information coming available at a time when farmers need more information.
If the Department is committed to multispecies and red clover, which it seems to be, then it needs to start evaluating varieties of the different species.
The last thing we need are poor-quality varieties being sown – reseeding is too costly an exercise for that.