The positive impact of reseeding on grass quality and quantity is clear and if done well, the method used to reseed makes little difference. But getting it right is crucial and it is important to think about which method is right for your conditions.
Below is a list of pros and cons for each method to help you make the right reseeding technique decision for your farm. Whichever method you use, preparing the ground is critical. Aim to produce a fine, firm and level seedbed. This allows maximum seed-to-soil contact and gives you the best chance of successful germination. It is important to apply lime at reseeding to help break down the old sward and counter acid production.
Ploughing remains one of the most commonly used methods of cultivation to provide a firm and level seedbed but may not always be possible in stony conditions.
- It’s a particularly good option where soil compaction is an issue
- It allows you to break a soil pan and bury both trash and farmyard manure, releasing nutrients back into the soil
- It ensures good seed-to-soil contact and enables the germination process to get going quickly
- It can be expensive
- It carries a risk of bringing less fertile soil towards the surface
- It can disturb weed seed banks, bringing them up to where they can germinate. Docks, for example, can lie dormant in the soil for up to 50 years, but still germinate and grow if disturbed
Minimum cultivation techniques generally describes cultivation that does not involve soil inversion, most commonly disc and one pass or power-harrowing.
- It is often cheaper than the conventional ploughing method
- It involves less disturbance of the topsoil so is ideal in stony and shallow soils where you’re trying to avoid bringing stones up to the surface
- It is vital any thatch or trash is sufficiently broken up and buried in order to create a fine, level seedbed
Direct drilling creates a slit in the ground into which the seed is then placed. The slit is then generally covered over with a light roller on the back of the machine. This method can be risky if a dry spell comes after sowing. Achieving a good kill of the old sward is important to minimise competition with this method; the application of lime is critical when using this method to help it breakdown.
- The cost of direct drilling can be less than for ploughing
- Can often return to grazing sooner as there is less soil disturbance
- The removal of dead material before drilling is important. If left, it can rot down creating an acidic surface layer which can scorch or kill seedlings as they emerge
- More difficult for seed to establish as there is no cultivation of the soil
- There can be variable results, especially if the weather comes dry after sowing
- It is not suitable for dry, hard ground or where dry weather is forecast
- Slug pellets may be necessary
Whichever method you use, rolling is absolutely crucial to ensure good soil-to-seed contact after sowing as a loose seedbed will have a lower germination rate. One of the most common reasons for the failure of a new reseed is often related to not rolling after sowing.
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