Ultimate Establishment

1. Plan

• Best husbandry means replacing old leys when production starts to drop.
• You should consider soil health so always sample and test for pH, phosphate and potassium as a minimum requirement.
• By applying farmyard manure or poultry litter you will contribute significantly to rectifying any fertiliser issues.
• Are there any pests or weeds that need dealing with before establishment? You must at least consider slugs, wireworm, leatherjackets and frit fly.
• Consider break crops like stubble turnips, kale, cereals or maize. They help break the pest life cycle and allow opportunities to control deep rooting weeds like docks and thistles.

2. Establish

• Clean up ground by desiccating with glyphosate to kill weeds.
• Spread manure at the necessary rate before cultivating.
• Fine seeds like grass seed, clover and roots need a good fine firm seedbed.
• Soil temperature needs to be above 5 degrees.
• Consolidation with a Cambridge roll will reduce slug activity and help germination of the seed.
• Sowing should be measured by using a drill metering system but broadcasting is preferred if sowing with clover.
• If you sow the seed too deep you may never see it again!! 5-10mm depth is enough for grass seed and clover.
• Overseeding should take place after cutting silage or grazing tightly.
• When soils are dry, chain harrow hard to create some tilth and remove old thatch to allow light and moisture to penetrate soils.
• Sow suitable seed mix and consolidate with rolls or run sheep over it to press in the seed.

3. Nurture

• Don’t close the gate and forget about newly planted crops.
• It is imperative to check for slug and pest activity on a weekly basis when conditions are suitable for them to thrive.
• Weeds can suppress plant growth and sometimes smother out completely.  The hard work has been done so don’t let this happen.
• Apply Nitrogen in early spring if conditions allow. Mid-February is not too early to start applying Nitrogen.

4. Manage

• If you have a grazing ley established, it will help if you run sheep over it early on to improve tillering but do not overgraze or poach.
• Perrenial Ryegrass is very responsive to Nitrogen. Feeding nitrogen throughout the leys life span will help the grass ley reach its potential.
• Red and White Clover is very beneficial and helps the grass recover quickly after turning stock off or cutting.
• For best D-value silage aim to cut at 5 percent heading.