Lanarkshire contractor Steven Barr would like stock farmers in his area to do more to rejuvenate their grass fields between full re-seeds – and not just because he has invested in a new implement that he believes does a better job of top-up seeding than other techniques.
“In the days when everyone made hay, pastures were naturally refreshed by shed seed but that’s not the case now we’re making silage,” he points out. “Regularly putting in some fresh seed helps maintain a sward’s yield and quality.”
Having tried direct grass seeding using a power harrow drill combination and also a flexi-tine grass harrow-seeder with mixed results, he now reckons to have found a technique that delivers the results his customers want with the output that makes full re-seeds and stitch seeding viable contract services.
“The Greenmaster makes a thorough job of topping up a sward thanks to its aggressive tines and prism ring roller,” Mr Barr maintains. “It clears out dead grass very effectively without pulling up good grass and it makes a bit of a tilth that the seed is then pushed into, not just left on the surface.”
The Greenmaster, made by German manufacturer Güttler and distributed in Britain by Wox Agricultural Services, is available in various guises – as a rear-mounted implement, as a front-mounted/rear trailed combination to distribute the weight more evenly, and as a rear-mounted/trailed combination.
In each case, the machine comprises two separate elements – the Harroflex scarifying unit and the distinctive Güttler self-cleaning roller formed by pairs of cast rings with prism-shaped castellations around their circumference. A seeding system completes the package.
Last year, Mr Barr added a 7.7m trailed version to the 3m mounted Greenmaster he started off with.
The Harroflex unit on both machines has two rows of 12mm flexible tines, which are adjustable for angle and thus how aggressively they work on the soil surface. On Mr Barr’s 3m machine, the tines are preceded by a triangular section steel levelling board; but for the trailed model he opted for the new ripper board, comprising short 12mm tines mounted in pairs on a flexible steel “C” tine carrier.
“The levelling bar just skims the surface, knocking off the tops of any rough areas but the ripper board is a more useful tool,” he says. “It’s good at breaking up and levelling rough, badly poached areas and it starts to loosen the soil surface ahead of the flexible tines.”
It’s a combination with a very effective scarifying action, he maintains, which gets the thatch of dead grass that inhibits fresh growth out of the bottom of the sward.
Next up on Steven Barr’s 7.7m Greenmaster is an RDS Artemis-controlled Accord-type seeding system. He chose this over the standard package because its 24 seed “splash plates” should deliver more even broadcasting than the alternative wider-spaced eight-outlet arrangement when conditions are a bit windy.
With the jagged profile of the prism rings creating 300 points per square metre, seed broadcast low in front of the roller is pushed into the ground rather than left on the surface.
“I’ve noticed it tends to come up in rows despite being broadcast,” says Steven Barr. “But the seedlings soon tiller out to cover the surface.
“My preferred approach is to plough, power harrow once with a single Güttler roller on the front of the tractor, and then use a heavy flat roll to bury stones and consolidate the seed-bed,” says Mr Barr. “The Greenmaster will then take out any trackings from the tractor as you’re sowing to leave as even a surface as possible.”
Sowing forage rape into a sprayed-off grass sward and a mixture of stubble turnips and forage rape into wholecrop stubbles have also been successful.
“It picked up a bit of trash, which could easily be dropped off at the headland, but after lifting the ripper tines on the linkage and easing of the flexi tines a bit, it worked a treat,” says Mr Barr.