Farmers should avoid cutting corners when it comes to buying grass seed and should use the Recommended List to ensure they are selecting the best varieties possible.
That was the message from independent grassland adviser Chris Duller at the Royal Welsh Grassland event last week (16 May).
“[Grass] will hopefully be in the ground for 5-10 years. Don’t cut corners when it comes to buying a top-quality seed mix,” he warned.
Be clear on the job you want it for
About 75% seed currently sold in the UK is sold as cut and graze off the shelf, Mr Duller explained. The problem with this tactic was it compromises performance, he added.
“If you end up with a mix trying to do everything you will end up making compromises. Be clear in your mind what it’s going to do.”
For example, he said grazing required denser swards whereas grass for cutting would need to be more open.
“For some farmers, a cut and graze mix will suit [those taking only one cut], but there’s advantages to being more specialised.”
Beware of fillers
Mr Duller also warned farmers about using mixes containing “fillers” or cheaper varieties that had fallen off the Recommended List.
“Beware of fillers if they have been taken off for a good reason; because they have been out-classed in terms of yield or have changed in terms of disease resistance or quality.
“Saving money by buying varieties [that are poorer] makes no commercial sense.”
Instead, he encouraged farmers to challenge their seed merchant and find out more about the variety in question.
Picking the best varieties off the list
When choosing varieties to add to their “shopping list” he advised farmers to go through the list with a highlighter and pick out the ones with 5%+ gains against others, not 2-3%, because 5%+ would make the most difference on farm.
For example, he said AberGain had the highest grazing value of 78.6 which equated to an extra 7% more grass than average.
“Remember, one point increase in D value is worth a 5% improvement in animal performance.”