28 March 1997

Good management is vital for your swards

SUCCESSFULLY rejuvenating grass swards requires careful management before and after reseeding.

So warns Charlie Mackie, grassland specialist at the Scottish Agricultural College. "Nothing will be as successful as a reseed -whatever else you do will be a patch-up, and can be risky. Management is crucial."

Before sowing, swards should be very tightly grazed to give newly sown seed a chance to establish and compete. "Soil fertility is also crucial – P and K levels must be adequate before sowing."

Aberdeen-based SAC agronomist David Younie says that oversowing may be a better option for rejuvenating swards than slot seeding.

"Slot seeding can be successful if everything is right, but its generally a contractors job, and can be expensive."

Oversowing, using farm labour and machinery, is cheaper, and means theres less risk of losing money if the grass seed doesnt take, says Mr Younie.

"Seed rate should be about 20kg/ha, and its best done as early as possible in the spring to ensure theres adequate soil moisture. If you leave it until July, once the first flush of grass is past, its probably too dry and too late for successful establishment."

Post-sowing, sward management is vital. "Graze during summer rather than cutting if possible, That ensures light gets into the base of the sward to ensure new grass gets a chance to establish."n