Tractor reseeding grass in field

Successful reseeding of grassland

Author: Philip Kennedy – Area Manager (New Ross) 


Reseeding is an essential part of any grassland farm and should be considered as a long-term investment, with newly reseeded swards typically lasting for at least 8–10 years.

Planning is essential and ideally, you will have areas marked for reseeding the previous autumn and have your field soil tested at this stage as it is a great opportunity to rectify the pH and the levels of calcium and magnesium in the soil.

When selecting your grass varieties, you must decide on what you intend to do with the field. E.g. grazing, cutting, or perhaps a dual-purpose sward. The Teagasc Pasture Profit Index (PPI) is a very useful tool to choose varieties suited to your individual needs. A good mixture of tetraploids and diploids with good early spring growth and the highest PPI is most desirable.

With the new derogation rules, clover must also be included in the grass seed mixture with a minimum of 0.6 kg/acre for standard clover seed or 1 kg/acre for a pelleted clover seed. Good free-draining soil will generally be sowed with 40-50% diploid and 50-60% tetraploid in the mix.



Old pastures should be sprayed off with a good glyphosate product at a rate capable of killing old weeds and scutch grass (couch grass). Bentgrass can be difficult to control due to its slim leaf, and max glyphosate rates will be required to control it effectively. This can also be done on silage ground and the old crop can be cut after 7 to 10 days and ensiled (after this period your forage value will be greatly reduced). This is a good way of getting low levels of sods to deal with, especially when using non-inversion system. A further 10 days after cutting may be required to allow roots to die off. A minimum of at least 5 to 7 days will be required to let glyphosate work before ploughing.



Reseeding is an ideal time to apply lime and work it into the soil. Aim for a pH of at least 6.3 as new seeds will not survive in a low pH soil. Even if the field has received lime a few years ago, it will still need to be required to deal with the rise in acidity due to the decaying old pasture.

Choose your rate and type of lime (calcium/magnesium) from your soil sample advice. In general, 1 to 2 tonnes will be required. If there is no lime required on your sample, it is still best to use 1 tonne of ground limestone per acre or some granulated lime to deal with the rise in acidity as the old pasture decays.


Lime being spread on reseeded ground



When it comes to fertiliser, it is important to consult your soil samples. Some chemical Phosphorous (P) is essential in all reseeds, even in a high index situation due to small roots not being able to get P (Nitrates directive will allow chemical P to be used even on a high index when reseeding). The P in slurry or FYM won’t release quickly enough for a reseed. Typically, 3 bags of 10-10-20 per acre will be used. In a low index P and Potassium (K) situation, up to 4.5 bags of 10-10-20 will be required. Once grass seeds are up, apply 40 to 50 units of Nitrogen (N) plus Sulphur (S) per acre to drive them on as the undeveloped root system will be unable to forage for organic nitrogen.



A fine firm seedbed with no sods and good seed to soil contact is essential for a successful reseed. The field should also be leveled correctly. If direct drilling, it is essential to apply lime, as this method ideally needs soil moisture to work best. A perennial ryegrass mix should be sown at 14 kg per acre, plus the clover.



Rolling is one of the more important stages of the reseeding process and may often be the difference between a great and a poor result. A heavy flat roller that is driven slowly gives the best results. Rolling holds in moisture, ensures good soil seed contact, and reduces the risk of frit fly, slugs, and leather jacket issues.

In general, if there is a lot of grass visible under the tractor wheels and the double-rolled headlands, you haven’t rolled the field well enough. Consider rolling the field twice in dry conditions or at least before and after sowing. In permanent pasture, a ring roller is not heavy enough. Rolling between harrow runs is also recommended.


Slug moving through grass


Leather jackets, slugs, and frit fly are the main pest issues we encounter with a new reseed and the field should be monitored regularly during the first few weeks. Slugs are a big problem in wet conditions and can normally be found underneath large stones or sods. Putting out slates or bags with stones on top of them can be useful to check on the slug population as they will hide underneath these.


Weed Control:

This is the best time to control weeds especially docks and chickweed while they are still small. Aim to spray weeds 5 to 6 weeks after sowing when they are very young. Where clover is present, you must have at least 2 to 3 leaves on the grass before a herbicide can be applied to avoid damage.

A large range of non-clover safe products are available and there are also a couple of clover safe products available.



It is best to graze a new reseed as opposed to cutting as this best promotes tillering. Take out at a low cover to allow light into weaker tillers etc. Be sure not to graze too bare; if roots can be pulled up by the animals, it is best left until the plants are well anchored in the ground.


Stitching in without spraying off:

A tired sward can be rejuvenated by stitching in with a direct drill. Aim to sow 8 to 10 kg of tetraploids per acre as they have proven to be more vigorous. Graze the field every 10 to 12 days to allow light into the new seeds. Rolling and fertiliser should also be used in this situation and granulated lime or ground limestone should also be applied as per test.


Field of multi-species swards


Multi-species Mixture:

A multi-species mixture combines four species including nitrogen-fixing and nitrogen-lifting types, offering significant benefits to sheep, beef, and dairy farmers, particularly in low input systems. The deep rooting species such as perennial chicory and plantain means nutrients are taken up from a different part of the soil profile than is the case with shallower rooting ryegrasses. Having a range of different species will also mean multiple sources of protein, energy, and minerals, presenting a more complete nutritional profile to the grazing animal.

Other benefits of multi-species swards include; improved soil structure, increased drought resistance, greater animal performance (increase in milk solids), and reduced levels of internal parasites. One of the major disadvantages to multi-species swards is the lack of weed control options. Many of the present weed control options will kill out the likes of chicory and plantain.

There is a large range of different grass seed mixtures available and a bespoke grass seed mixture can be made on request to adapt to your unique soils or enterprises. Our Cooney Furlong farm representatives are available to discuss your specific requirements.


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Guide to rearing replacement heifers

Author: Jack Scallan – Ruminant Feed Specialist 


At this time of year, most spring-born calves are out at grass, albeit 2-3 weeks later than normal. Now is a good time to consider what targets should be met over the next 12 to 24 months to achieve the desired weight and size at first calving (approximately 24 months old).

Setting goals is particularly important for replacement heifers as it can cost between €1400 -1600 to raise a replacement heifer from birth to first calving. Any delay in reaching the desired goals will incur extra costs that will have to be paid back at a later stage.


Calf Growth Rates: 

Calves should be able to achieve a growth rate of 750 grams/day on fresh well-managed grass, to reach a target weight of 260 kg on November 1st. Many factors such as a poorly managed or old pasture, bad weather, etc., may result in a requirement for supplementation with concentrates (up to 1.5 kg/head/day of a high energy, high fibre, 16% crude protein nut/ration), to attain this target. Routine vaccination and dosing programmes should be introduced in the first summer at grass as this will boost the immune system and help prevent major disease breakdowns in later life, such as IBR, BVD, etc.  Calves should be weighed at least three times in the first summer; at turnout, mid-summer (when being treated for worms, etc.), and at housing, to ensure that they are gaining the required weight.


Silage Quality: 

Silage quality will determine how much if any, concentrates are given in the first winter, to maintain an average daily gain of 0.5 kg, however, 0.75 kg/day should be the target. This will ensure that the heifers are at 60% of their mature body weight at breeding (320 – 350 kg).  If silage quality is poor, approximately 62% DMD, then up to 2 kg of 16% crude protein concentrate should be fed per day. The housing itself should be airy but not draughty with plenty of space to move around. Clean fresh water should always be available.

Silage being held and check for quality


At breeding time, the heifers should be weighing about 350 kg, as the better-developed heifers at mating will produce more milk in the first lactation. Early turnout to grass in the spring will encourage the heifers to cycle regularly and therefore can be synchronised to be mated in a designated time frame, so that they calve down in a similar time frame, preferably at the beginning of the calving season, so that bullying in the herd is reduced to a low level. Conception rates for heifers should be around 70+%.

Again, routine vaccination and dosing programmes should be carried out during the second summer at grass. A daily liveweight gain of 0.67 kg/day should be easily achievable at grass but this will depend on the prevailing conditions such as grass quantity and quality, etc.



During the second housing period, the heifers will be approaching calving. The aim is that they achieve 90% of their mature bodyweight at calving, approximately 540 kg. The silage/forage should be of good quality, but it is important to not let them get too fat (BCS> 3.25).  It is recommended that the replacement heifer is fed 1-2 kg of concentrates in the last two weeks of pregnancy to help her through the calving event. In fact, the nutrient requirement in the last month of pregnancy is higher for the replacement heifer than it is for the mature cow (8.52ufl, 733g PDI/day for the heifer compared to 8.1ufl, 626g PDI/day for the mature cow).

Calf resting in bed of straw

Post Calving: 

Post calving, the heifer must be managed carefully to help her recover from calving. This involves reducing stress by a gradual introduction to the herd, once a day milking for about 10 days, a gradual increase of concentrate intake as well as looking out for any metabolic disorders and infections that might occur.


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Sustainable farming solutions

Author: John Bass – Business Development Manager 


The agriculture sector is under increased scrutiny year on year to become more economically efficient, while increasing our environmental sustainability. We are all seeing the forthcoming changes in fertiliser allowances and slurry spreading restraints, and with this, it is more important now than ever before to dedicate time to our decision making on farm.

This begins with the basics of addressing soil issues and imbalances with lime and soil pH, closely followed by nutrient balances, crop rotation, cover cropping and grass reseeding in order to maximise crop and grass yield within the ever-increasing fertiliser and chemical constraints.


Legumes and Brassicas:

There has been a big increase in legume and brassica crops such as beans and oilseed rape within rotations in the last number of years as well as oats. The crops are not only a good option for spreading workloads, but they also act as a valuable contribution to soil health, fertility and condition.

Non-cereal crops are often looked upon as non-profitable crops, but this is often not the case. In fact, crop yields in the rotation following this break are enhanced due to improved soil fertility and reduced pest and disease burdens in the field. As our portfolio of chemicals is reducing dramatically, integrated pest management becomes more important year on year.


Brassica crop


Fertiliser Usage:

Fertiliser usage is also becoming increasingly important and more emphasis needs to go into soil sampling to increase the response we get from our fertiliser but also to reduce the risk of losses and keep our environmental impact down. As farmers, we can become more sustainable without cutting our inputs or production through these simple steps:


  • Addressing soil pH levels with a focus on calcium: magnesium ratios which greatly improves nutrient availability and uptake, especially nitrogen use efficiency within the plant.
  • Applying fertiliser at the right time to maximise uptake and meet growth demands.
  • Applying certain nutrients when needed such as Phosphorus (P) early in the season and Potassium (K) later in both grass and tillage systems.
  • Monitoring grass growth to plan fertiliser rotations rather than blanket spreading or following stock when not always warranted.
  • Availing of GPS systems in order to minimise wastage on overlaps and checking spread patterns to ensure even application.
  • This year, in some cases, it has been better value to spread Nitrogen (N) based compounds rather than straight N or Urea, while better grass growths have been aided by the little and often application of P and K.
  • Cover cropping to recycle nutrients and condition soil in order to maximise crop yields and reduce diesel consumption and wear and tear.
  • Maintaining buffer zones to avoid water contamination.
  • Using aids such as sulphur and seaweed additives in fertiliser such as SUPERCAN over straight CAN or going a step further and using one of the new products from the Target Fertilisers Terra Range. This aids nitrogen uptake and use efficiency, making it a valuable tool especially in grass systems where derogation is inhibiting N and P usage.

For more information, download the Target Fertilisers Terra Range.

Picture of Terra Range flyer











We are all aware of the looming changes to CAP and the impacts this may have on our SFP going forward. This is going to put increased pressure on the sector as a whole. If we as an industry can be more efficient now, it may increase our chances of fighting towards keeping our payments as we know them and prove that as a nation, we produce food more sustainably than most places in the world.


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Technical Crop Update: Summer 2021

Author: George Blackburn, Sales Manager  


As another crop protection season draws to a close, our attention now turns towards harvest and making assessments of the current condition of crops.

Due to the prolonged cold spells and big fluctuations between day and night-time temperatures, 2021 has been one of the most difficult and challenging seasons for crop protection and particularly spraying itself. The spring began and stayed cold well into April, making herbicide and growth regulation particularly difficult on some of the winter crops, especially oats. It also contributed to reduced efficacy of chemistry and very late germination of weeds post-application of contact herbicides.

Grass weeds were a particular challenge in winter cereals, with Sterile Brome beginning to rear its head in winter barley again, something that has not been an issue in recent seasons. Grass weeds like Brome, Canary Grass, Annual Meadow Grass and Wild Oats are providing an agronomic challenge that requires immediate attention and more stringent management protocols.

The addition of some new chemistry to the toolbox on wheat this year proved a saving grace as many spray intervals were delayed later. That said, the new actives in Questar and Revystar appear to have performed very well in the field, with Septoria control very satisfactory.


Winter Wheat:


The two main winter wheat varieties sown by customers were Graham and Costello and both have been performed well on most agronomic characteristics such as disease and especially Septoria and Yellow Rust.

The 2021 season has suited wheat as the prolonged cold spell prevented too much Septoria inoculum building up in the base of crops and transferring up the canopy when the rain came in May. The slow spring also allowed for steady canopy development, which is ideal for yield formation and crops never turned into the dreaded “silage” stage which can happen with rapid growth in early April. Wheat seems to have a very good grain set with the cold spring setting an extra grain or two on the ear. Crops flowered a week later than normal but the timing was ideal as it missed most of the heavy rain which can be a major source of Fusarium inoculum at flowering.

Crops have a lot of potential, and provided they don’t run out of moisture, bumper yields could be recorded. One lesson we did learn this year is the early sowing in difficult or heavy land is a must and outweighs the risk of BYDV to ensure proper establishment. Graham seems to be suitable for early drilling and is definitely something to bear in mind for the upcoming autumn campaign.

Spring Barley:

There has been huge variation in sowing date and soil type for our flagship crop, barley. Crops sown in March that had enough sap to push on once germinated have handled the cold and subsequent wet conditions that came afterwards. Crops sowed earlier, tillered out and developed a good canopy which allowed them to handle some of the heavy rainfall in mid-May.

Many barley crops have faced challenges this year in terms of establishment, weed and disease control. Crops that were not as advanced and may have had some underlying compaction or soil fertility issues, especially on headlands, have suffered badly. The heavy rain and easterly wind stressed crops to the point where tillers were aborted and growth was stunted to an extent that yield will be compromised.

Despite this, the story is largely a positive one as there are some fantastic crops out there, which could produce yields from 2-4 tonne to the acre this harvest and everywhere in between. Growers that did good quality work in the spring and minded crops well in terms of plant nutrition and good disease control programmes will be rewarded.

Spring barley field


Winter Barley:

Winter barley is coming to the end of grain fill and looks to have more potential than looked possible earlier in the season. Grain numbers are good per ear and crops are clean of disease and look to be filling well. The cold spring did not suit winter barley, as many crops never bulked up to the extent that they usually do.

The 6 rows look to have an edge in terms of vigour and seem to have coped with difficult growing conditions better as would be expected. The new 6-row conventional variety, Joyau is performing particularly well in the field and it will be interesting to see how it performs over the weighbridge in 4-5 weeks’ time. The BYDV tolerant gene could be a breakthrough for winter barley growers in the years ahead, however, grain quality must stack up with established varieties. It won’t matter how good it is against BYDV if it cannot meet the spec requirements of end-users.

2-row barley crops struggled in the cold spring, however, they look to be making a late run. The variety, Valerie looks to be performing particularly well, with a very good head on it.


Spring Beans:


Beans have relished the moisture in May and are in stark contrast to the sad drought-stricken crops in May 2020. Crops are lush, vibrant and look to have potential. First fungicides have been applied and rotation is again flagging up as a key determinant to disease pressure risk. Any crop sowed back to beans in the last 5 years as opposed to the ideal 1 in 7, is showing increased levels of downy mildew, which is something to keep an eye on in the future.


Winter and Spring Oats:

Field of winter oats

Both winter and spring oats look to be very well and have good, sized panicles. The cool weather suits oats crops and those that received good programmes should do well.

A lot of winter oat crops have suffered from a combination of frost and growth regulator damage around the country but luckily we don’t appear to have any of these issues with our grower base. Attention to spray timings and good foliar nutrition paid off on oats this year no doubt.


Oilseed Rape:

oilseed rape

Oilseed rape has a good pod set after a very long flowering period. Rape could be an attractive option for autumn 2021 as forward prices are attractive and the crop provides an excellent break option.

Rape will allow you to get on top of problem grass weeds in fields that are exhibiting resistance or enhanced metabolism to standard chemical treatments for grass weed control in winter and spring cereals. Propyzmaide (Kerb) found in Kerb and Astrokerb has no known resistance to grass weeds and could become a key IPM strategy for weed control in future.

Rape also offers an opportunity to spread the workload at harvest and with the new straw chopping scheme, growers may find it easier to get it established in a timely fashion.



In summary, crops look to be good on the whole and with harvest prices looking promising, I wish all our growers a successful and safe harvest and would like to thank them for their support throughout the year.


Note for growers:

The Cooney Furlong Grain Company will be purchasing food grade barley this year with premiums paid on certain varieties this harvest. If you have potential food grade barley, we request that you do not spray a crop of spring barley with glyphosate. Read more here. 


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