Introducing ultipro seed treatment technology
Betaseed’s unique seed treatment Ultipro is designed to help sugar beet growers maximise their yields and profitability by improving the health and performance of their crops.

By protecting the seed and promoting early plant development, Ultipro can help growers establish a strong, healthy stand of sugar beets that can withstand environmental stresses and produce a high-quality crop. Ultipro has been independently tested for 3 years and is approved for use in the UK. It is available on the varieties; BTS SMART 9485 and BTS 1915.

The Limagrain UK portfolio of Betaseed varieties continues to offer a diverse range of varieties for individual growers’ consideration on the new RL 2024.


Find out more about our sugar beet portfolio here

Download the Betaseed Sugar Beet Variety Guide

Delivering success in sugar beet
The Limagrain UK portfolio of Betaseed varieties are proven to deliver successful performance, in trials and more importantly, on-farm.

Even in the recent erratic, testing seasons of drought and virus, BTS varieties have shown consistently high performance – delivering growers security in genetics.

As you will see from the enclosed BBRO Sugar Beet Recommended List for 2024, Betaseed varieties offer genetic diversity for a successful harvest;

BTS 1915 – continues to be the highest yielding variety in both treated and untreated trials, showing a resilience better than any other RL sugar beet variety.

BTS SMART 9485 – the first ALS herbicide tolerance variety from Betaseed, offering the highest yield potential for SMART CONVISO varieties, combined with improved disease and bolting resistance.

BTS 3020 – is an outstanding variety for the earlier and normal drilling situation with the lowest ESB figures available. It offers good yield combined with the highest sugar content and excellent disease resistance.

BTS 3610 – is one of only a few varieties that have achieved a NSB count of 0 over the 3-year data set – critical if bolting is a key consideration on your farm and offering robustness for earlier drilling.


Betaseed’s unique seed treatment Ultipro is designed to help sugar beet growers maximise their yields and profitability by improving the health and performance of their crops. By protecting the seed and promoting early plant development, Ultipro can help growers establish a strong, healthy stand of sugar beets that can withstand environmental stresses and produce a high-quality crop. Ultipro has been independently tested for 3 years and is approved for use in the UK. It is available on the varieties; BTS SMART 9485 and BTS 1915.

The Limagrain UK portfolio of Betaseed varieties continues to offer a diverse range of varieties for individual growers’ consideration on the new RL 2024.

Find out more about our sugar beet portfolio here

Download the Betaseed Sugar Beet Variety Guide

Consistency is key to sugar beet success
Sugar beet plays an important part in the rotation because it provides consistent yields and is a genuine break crop, according to fourth generation farmer Peter Mahony, of R&D Mahony.

“We grow sugar beet because it is a spring-sown crop that contributes to weed control, particularly black grass, which can be problematic as our soils are mainly heavy clay which predisposes them to the weed.”

Mr Mahony’s variety of choice over the past three years has been BTS 1915, which he likes because it ‘ticks the box on consistent yield’. He has also grown BTS 1140 and BTS 3610.

“BTS 1915 fits well with our system despite the variety being susceptible to bolting, as we are growing the crop in heavy soils, so we do not usually drill until the second half of March.”

The Bury St Edmunds-based farm has been growing sugar beet since the mid-1960s, so there is plenty of crop management experience behind decisions, although Peter emphasises that every spring brings different challenges.

Sugar beet usually follows winter wheat and Peter’s strategy is to plough in the autumn, burn off volunteers with glyphosate, repeat this again in the spring and create a nice seedbed with good tilth.

His five-year average yield is 73t/ha, he reveals, remarking that this is a good result given the heavy soils the crop is grown in. However, last year, yields were lower due to the drought and beet moth issues.

“Whilst we have a had a few dry springs, this year we are also coping with March and April being unreasonably cold and very wet.

“But we have to work with what we are given, and beet drilling was split with 7ha drilled on the 5th April and the remainder 18-19th April.

“We planted into very wet seedbeds, so we kept drilling depths shallow to conserve the tilth on the top.”

By the third week of May the crops were at the four to eight-leaf stage, and looking very healthy.

Peter goes on to share some of his ‘secrets’ of how he addresses some of the inherent challenges to get the most from sugar beet crops on his land.

“We find that quite often it can be too hot in the day to apply herbicides, so we prefer to go in the evening.

“If the machinery has been used for spraying cereals, we make sure it is given a good clean before it goes into sugar beet to prevent contamination.”

He has also adjusted his fertiliser strategy for sugar beet, to ensure the best results.

“When the crop emerges we like to apply 80kg/N/ha to give it a good push. However, although we use liquid N on the other crops in the rotation, it can cause scorch on sugar beet and also interfere with herbicide efficacy.

“As a result, we buy solid fertiliser especially for the sugar beet, which, as it is bought in small quantities, is expensive, but the end result is worth it.”

Lifting sugar beet can cause soil compaction which needs remedial work before the next crop goes in and Peter points out that the harvester, which weighs 40t, plus the tractor and trailer are all on the field at the wrong time of year.

“We normally try to have just two or three lifts, and then go into spring barley.”

“However, last year we managed to lift in mid-October, which worked well.”

One of the reasons behind this early lifting was because there was an attack of beet moth; last year also saw challenges from heat, drought and aphids.

“With BTS varieties, and particularly BTS 1915, we are able to achieve consistent yields. This means we know what we are going to get, even when prices are not so good.

“However, as we are now changing our tillage strategy, and will be using a Claydon drill, we will have to evaluate where – and whether – sugar beet will sit with the new regime.”


Farm facts:

Home farm: 133ha (330 acres)
Contract farm: 81ha (200 acres)
Soil: Heavy clay
Current rotation: Winter barley, winter wheat, beans, sugar beet, spring barley


Highest yields for third year running

The highest yielding variety on the Recommended List, BTS 1915 keeps its lead for the third year running at 103.9%.

“BTS 1915 is once again showing its ability to hold onto its exceptional yields across a range of locations and situations.”

“The consistency of performance of BTS 1915 is quite remarkable, and should give growers the reassurance that they are looking for when considering what variety to grow this year.”

“This significant yield advantage over any other variety on the RL – and also as the highest yielding variety in untreated trials at 106.5%, really proves the quality of the genetics behind the variety,” says Mr Granger.

BTS 1915 is not just about high yields however, he continues. “We recognise that varieties also need to establish well, have good bolting tolerance and robust disease resistance to succeed.”

BTS 1915 does have a good disease resistance profile but is not a variety to be considered for the early drilling situation as indicated by the red X (unsuitable for sowing before mid March), points out Mr Granger.

“We recommend the variety for the normal to late sowing period – mid March onwards, which for the majority of growers is the mean average drilling date on farm. ”


BTS 1915 Facts

• Bred by Betaseed, the Limagrain UK portfolio offers varieties to suit a range of situations and requirements:
• BTS 1915 – The highest yielding variety available
• Suitable for sowing Mid March onwards
• Good disease resistance


Find out more about our sugar beet portfolio here

Download the Betaseed Sugar Beet Variety Guide

Delivering success for growers
The Limagrain UK portfolio of Betaseed varieties continues to offer a diverse range of varieties for individual growers consideration on the new RL 2024.

Betaseed varieties are proven both in trials and more importantly, with consistent on farm performance and are now a recognised force in the UK sugar beet cropping sector.

Betaseed varieties have shown a consistency of performance over very erratic, testing seasons of drought and virus – delivering growers security in genetics.

On top of the unique varieties of Betaseed, we support your success with our newly approved proprietary seed treatment technology Ultipro. Ultipro has been independently tested for 3 years in comparison with the UK market standard. The portfolio offers a range of varieties suitable for the key demands of the individual farmers requirements – yield / sugar % / disease resistance / bolting tolerance and now ALS herbicide resistance. Betaseed´s Ultipro seed technology is available in all major sugar beet growing areas, securing productive sugar beet growing.

Betaseed’s unique Seed Treatment Ultipro is designed to help sugar beet growers maximise their yields and profitability by improving the health and performance of their crops. By protecting the seed and promoting early plant development, Ultipro can help growers establish a strong, healthy stand of sugar beets that can withstand environmental stresses and produce a high-quality crop.

Security in genetics

The graph below shows the yield as adjusted tonnes against rust ratings.

It shows that along with yield, Betaseed varieties deliver some of the best rust resistance available. The level of rust resistance is important in a variety especially for growers looking to minimise fungicide input, when a late lifting philosophy is adopted on farm to maximise full yield potential.

This attribute of good rust resistance combined with additional disease resistance for Powdery Mildew and Cercospora, high sugar content and bolting figures at both ESB and NSB will determine both variety drilling date and also lifting date, in many situations. Security in genetics is now a more recognised characteristic than just high yield for most arable crop production systems across the UK.


Find out more about our sugar beet portfolio here

Download the Betaseed Sugar Beet Variety Guide

CONVISO® SMART sugar beet – all you need to know!
BTS SMART 9485 is the first ALS herbicide tolerance variety from Betaseed, offering the highest yield potential for SMART CONVISO varieties, combined with improved disease and bolting resistance. Here’s all you need to know about BTS Smart varieties.


Key facts about BTS Smart varieties

BTS SMART sugar beet varieties have a genetic tolerance to work successfully together with the CONVISO® ONE herbicide.

CONVISO® ONE offers a combined efficacy against monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous weeds.

CONVISO® SMART sugar beets do not show yield loss caused by phytotoxicity when using CONVISO® ONE.

Effective elimination of conventional weed beets.

Sowing BTS Smart seed

Clean your seed drill thoroughly before sowing BTS SMART seed. Classic varieties sown in a CONVISO® SMART crop will not withstand the CONVISO® ONE herbicide.

Keep BTS SMART seed separate from classic sugar beet seed to avoid any mixing! CAUTION: It is extremely important not to mix BTS SMART seed with classic sugar beet seed at any time. Classic sugar beets will die off if treated with CONVISO® ONE.


Use a vacuum cleaner to empty the planting unit

Rotate sowing disc until it is completely empty


Use CONVISO® ONE according to the weed resistance management guidelines.

Use the recommended full dose rate.

Add an adjuvant to strengthen the efficacy if required.

Respect the appropriate recommended growth stage of weeds for application.

Sequence CONVISO® ONE application with non-ALS herbicides when required.

Consider a non-selective herbicide as a preceeding treatment after allowing emergence of weeds.

Always investigate the reasons for lower levels of efficacy control.

Make use of good agricultural practice to ensure good weed resistance management.

Use measures of integrated weed management(cultural, mechanical and chemical control).

Use cover crops if possible to reduce weed pressure.

Respect the crop rotation.

Rotate different herbicide mode of action in the crop rotation.

Use at least once in a 3-year crop rotation a pre-emergence / early post-emergence non-ALS
inhibiting herbicide.

If resistance is suspected, consult with a BASIS qualified advisor and use alternative herbicides.

For more info on Conviso® One, download our full guide brochure.

Betaseed Conviso Smart Book Visual

The Conviso Smart Brochure covers;

King of the crop
LG Monarch grass seed mixtures come up trumps on North Yorkshire sheep farm

Livestock farmer Andrew Hollings relies on good quality grass for his 1,000 hill ewes and small beef herd situated in Goathland, in the North Yorkshire National Park.

The farm is a mixture of moors and lower lying grass leys. Andrew, who is the third generation of the family to farm at Liberty Hall, has a system designed to suit the area. His Swaledales and Cheviots are hardy enough for the moors. These are crossed with a Leicester tup, and the lambs are reared and finished on the lower land. Lambing starts in early April.

Farmer Andrew Hollings' LG Monarch Multispecies crop

“It’s soon enough up here,” says Andrew, who has noticed a change in conditions during his farming career. “We’ve always worked with the weather not against it,” he adds.

“We’re just 10 miles in land from Whitby and we seem to get stronger winds coming off the North Sea,” he says. “These winds are our biggest challenge. It can be very wet, then the winds pick up and they dry out the ground. Summers are drier and warmer than they were 30 years ago. These conditions are harsh on the grass crops. We have to adapt our system to maintain and improve productivity.”

Mindful that grass must remain ‘king’ on both Liberty Farm’s 93-hectares and the blocks of rented land, Andrew has become more discerning on grass seed mixture choices and he’s started using options that are more suited to conditions and to coping with the challenges, all while improving feed value and productivity.

“I want as much feed value from homegrown forages,” he adds. “I rely mainly on grazed grass and some haylage. In very dry summers, we’ve seen the ground dry up and grass becomes short. In 2022, when it was particularly dry, the feed value in the grass dropped and ewe productivity fell and there were more single lambs.”

Farmer Andrew Hollings' LG Monarch Multispecies crop

The knock-on effect of this changing weather pattern has made Andrew look more carefully at improving grass productivity to safeguard home grown forage supplies. And it’s seen a move to better quality grass seed and multispecies mixtures.

He’s taken some advice from BATA’s agronomist Rose Thompson, and in 2021, he moved to using LG Monarch mixtures; partly because their range has mixtures designed for specific environments and purposes and also because the mixtures, designed by seed breeding company Limagrain, have been tried-and-tested in UK conditions.

“I look to reseed 15 to 20 acres (six to eight hectares) a year,” adds Andrew. “Grass is the cheapest feed we have. If I can improve the quality, it pays dividends.”

He opted for LG Monarch FlexiScot, which is a long-term mixture with highly productive tetraploid and diploid rye grasses, for early growth, and Timothy and white clover varieties that mature in mid-summer and offer some drought resistance. Farmer Andrew Hollings' LG Monarch Flexiscot crop

This mixture has excellent winter hardiness, and it has been tested successfully, across Scotland and Northern England.

Andrew directly drilled the Flexiscot seed after a crop of stubble turnips which were grown as a break crop. “We put plenty of muck on the land and a bit of fertiliser when we shut it up – this is hungry land.”

In fact, Andrew soil tests the land every year. “It’s vital that we get the pH right – it’s acidic soil and we need to lime it regularly, applying about 3t/acre (1.5t/ha).”

The resulting crop was highly successful and produced a dense sward that came out very well when analysed as part of the farm’s Flock Health Plan. “It’s a mixture that I will continue with – the yield and quality in year one and two has been phenomenal.”

Sheep at Liberty Hall graze the lower-lying grass swards until mid-May when they are closed up for six weeks before cutting for haylage for feeding ewes in January to March when there’s no feed value in neither the grass nor heather.

“I’m really pleased with the amount of grass we get off it,” he adds. “The swards are yielding very well with good quality grass and they’re lasting well through summer. This mixture is a big improvement on the previous ones.”

Another mixture Andrew introduced just recently is LG Monarch Multi-species. This medium-term herbal ley grazing mixture includes later perennial ryegrass, Timothy, red and white clover, chicory, sainfoin, fescues and plantain. The legume varieties reduce fertiliser input requirements and drought resistant species see the crop thriving during summer.

Farmer Andrew Hollings' LG Monarch Multispecies crop“I sowed 13-acres (5-ha) in mid-September 2022 – just power-harrowed the field and disced in the seed. It grew well. It didn’t need fertiliser, there were no growth checks. It was ready for grazing in spring and the sward remained very green throughout the summer.

“In fact, it grew so vigorously early in the season, that we had to cut and bale some. The aftermath went on to make excellent grazing right through summer for the lambs. We’ve grown more multicut now – it’s an ideal mixture for our lower-lying fields.

“These improved mixtures prove that it’s not what the grass seed costs, but it’s what it does that’s important.”


Limagrain forage crop account manager, Henry Louth, says that Mr Hollings’s experience with specific LG Monarch grass seed mixtures demonstrate the mixture’s potential to work well in harsher conditions. Henry Louth

“This makes them ideal for upland sheep farmers,” he says.

“Limagrain promotes its LG Monarch range, particularly the Flexiscot, Multicut and Multigraze mixtures to sheep farmers. Not only do they grow well, even in less than perfect conditions, they provide high feed value. Sheep and cattle also do particularly well on these forages.”

He is also seeing more interest in the Monarch Multi-species mixture. “This is ideal for low-input grazing, and it provides a grazing crop throughout summer and in drier conditions. As the grass growth slows down, other varieties in the mixture, like chicory, keep growing.”

Find out more about our grass mixtures here

Limagrain provides feed for endangered bird species
The campaign to increase numbers of turtle doves in the UK and stave off extinction of this endangered species is benefitting from feed supplies from seed company Limagrain UK.

Donations of small seeds typically turnips and peas and oilseed rape screenings from the company’s seed plant in Norfolk, that would otherwise be wasted, are supporting birds on the independent Turtle Dove Breeding Project. This project, co-ordinated by Trevor Lay of Waveney Wildlife, supplies all the captive bred birds to the Turtle Dove Trust for release purposes.

“We use mostly domestic, fostering Java Doves and we also encourage the Turtle Doves to rear at least one or two broods themselves,” says Trevor.

The breeding project supplies around 500 turtle doves each year, free of charge. The majority to the Turtle Dove Trust, and to other conservationists or release projects.

Trevor puts the seed material on a range of different ground surfaces such as scrubby grass, gravel, different sand types, ballast and granite chippings, so the young birds get used to foraging for all their seeds. “They are then familiar with searching on different terrain when they are released.

“We aim to release over-wintered birds once the oilseed rape and barley harvest is well underway, so the birds have plentiful feed supplies locally and are not tempted to migrate.”

The UK population has declined by almost 90% during the past 40 years. Captive breeding is helping to ensure that this species of dove does not face extinction. But it relies on donations and so we are always delighted when companies and individuals step up to the mark to help the project.

To learn more about the amazing work this charity is doing to help Turtle Dove populations, visit Turtle Dove Trust 
Regenerative principles support more productive grassland
A longer growing season, better quality grass and improved pest control support overall forage production, and they are all advantages of following regenerative agriculture principles.

“One key pillar of regenerative agriculture is greater plant diversity,” says Limagrain’s forage crop manager John Spence. “And it’s an area where grassland farmers can reap the benefits by growing mixtures with more species that widen the growing period and help to combat more variable climate conditions.

“For example, clovers continue to grow in mid-summer when ryegrass varieties slow up. This increases the growing season. Clover also offers nitrogen-fixing benefits.”

Likewise, deeper rooted plants included in multi-species mixtures, such as chicory and plantain, will be more productive in drought conditions whilst also improving soil structure and health.

Improve ground cover

Keeping soil covered is another regenerative pillar – and one to focus on for improved grassland productivity. “Mixtures with improved ground cover, dense swards and few bare patches are less prone to poaching in winter on wet land,” he adds. “Including clovers and herbs alongside highly productive ryegrass varieties ensures mixtures are more robust in dry summers with good ground cover, as well as increased forage output and quality.

He encourages grassland farmers to avoid leaving swards fallow between reseeds. “We recommend that farmers avoid following grass with grass immediately, particularly if there’s a pest problem, and a six-month break is good. Instead, a winter forage crop such a stubble turnips and forage rape will maintain ground cover, help to break the pest cycle, and provide extra much-needed forage for livestock.”

One of the main regenerative agriculture pillars is avoiding soil disturbance. “For grassland farmers this means direct drilling of new leys, minimum soil cultivation, and avoiding ploughing where possible. Overseeding is a good way of increasing productivity without cultivation”.

“Mixtures with tetraploid ryegrasses are good here as they complete well with existing grasses.”

Grassland farmers are already following many of the regenerative farming principles, but there’s more to be gained – specialist mixtures, forage break crops and improved practices will both support soil health and add to grassland productivity.

Financial support?

And there’s the added support from new SFI rules that could offer cash payments for making certain improvements, such as “NUM2: Legumes on improved grassland,” which offers £102/ha for introducing legumes such as white clover into existing temporary grass swards.

“It’s a win-win for many grassland farmers – more output from grassland and increased support for regenerative principles will support their businesses’ longer-term sustainability.”

Find out more about our grass mixtures here

Ian Foot: a pioneer in bringing quality wheats to market
Quality wheat breeding is losing a renowned figure as Ian Foot retires from the world of flour functionality and baking at leading plant breeders Limagrain UK, where he has headed up the quality wheat programme for the last 30 years.

Ian FootWhilst Ian Foot’s retirement marks the end of an era, it also marks the beginning of a new chapter, led by a passionate and skilled successor. As the torch is passed on to Ewa Lagowska, the spirit of innovation and excellence in wheat quality breeding continues to thrive at Limagrain UK.

Ian had an unconventional start to his journey in science. He didn’t like his history teacher at school, so he opted to take biology instead!

Ewa LagowskaThis led him to pursue biology at higher education, firstly at the Northeast Surrey College of Technology and subsequently at the West of Scotland Agricultural College, where Ian’s six-month industrial placement turned into a transformative few years at Throws Farm.

During this time, Ian not only gained valuable practical knowledge but also discovered his true calling. He returned to his studies with newfound zeal and completed a degree in agriculture, specialising in Crop Production. Armed with his newly acquired knowledge, he landed a position at Twyford Seeds, where he managed seed quality and pathology labs.

Bread loaves quality testing at Woolpit Breeding facility at Limagrain UKHowever, it was all change in the early 1990’s, when he found himself working for plant breeders Nickerson, who at that time had recently been acquired by Limagrain. Here he had the privilege of working under the mentorship of the esteemed wheat breeder, Bill Angus. Under Bill’s guidance, Ian honed his skills and became deeply involved in quality wheat breeding.

Ian took on the role of quality wheat manager, where he played a crucial role in developing quality programs that bridged the gap between end-user requirements and wheat breeding for the bread and biscuit sectors.

Working closely with wheat breeder Ron Granger, Ian spearheaded the development of the leading milling variety, Crusoe. Collaborating with the baker, Warburtons, Ian and his team had set out to find a wheat variety that could potentially replace the popular variety, Hereward. This variety had to meet Warburtons’ stringent quality requirements, including the quality of the flour, its functionality, baking performance and colour. For a variety to make a Group 1, it needs to deliver all this consistently.

The creation of Crusoe was a triumph. It not only met Warburtons’ high standards but also proved to be a resounding success in the market.

Today, more than a decade later, Crusoe remains one of the leading quality wheats, a testament to Ian’s visionary work and it has just been awarded the NIAB Variety Cup. NIAB awards - Crusoe, Ian Foot and Ron Granger

Ian Foot remains modest about his achievements and acknowledges the challenges of quality wheat breeding. The complexity of the task, with numerous independent variables to consider, makes it rare for a variety to tick all the boxes and endure in the competitive market.

Nevertheless, Ian’s passion for science, dedication to his craft, and commitment to improving agriculture have left a lasting impact on the industry and earned him a well-deserved place among the pioneers of quality wheat breeding.

Back your grassland
Grassland improvement is always a wise investment and despite some hikes in input prices there’s still no question on the payback from a reseed or repair.

Early summer is a key time in the grassland calendar. It’s when ‘big’ decisions are made – like timing of silage cuts to achieve the best quality or to maximise yield to fill the clamp.

“But it’s also time to assess sward and grass quality and make some decisions,” says Limagrain UK’s forage crops product manager John Spence.

So once first cut is completed, a visual assessment of the swards, together with yield and initial quality details, will give a good indication of whether silage targets have been met.

Fertiliser ‘fix’

If yields are down and the silage clamps are low after first cut then sward growth should be maximised in the short term.

“It might be a hard pill to swallow this year, but even with high input prices, the additional grass yield gained from fertilizer applications is worthwhile and more cost-effective than making up the shortfall in dietary energy with bought-in feed,” says Mr Spence.

Whilst reducing fertiliser applications might seem like an attractive idea, a 25% cut in nitrogen from an annual rate of 250kg/ha to around 185kg/ha is likely to reduce grass yields by around 2t/ha equivalent to a reduction in energy of around 22,000MJ/ha. This might save around £80/ha in fertiliser costs but the loss in energy from grass will cost around £600 to replace from energy in bought-in concentrates.

“And remember, concentrate feed prices are still high, so most farmers will see maximising milk from high quality forage as even more important this year.”

Oversowing the sward with a grass seed mixture – or clover – is another short to medium term grass improvement option, and soon after first cut is a good time to do this on any swards needing some ‘repair’.

“Have a walk around the sward a few days after cutting it,” adds Mr Spence. “Look for gaps and broadleaved weeds. But also look at the grasses. There’s no need to worry about identifying the individual grass weeds but look for the proportion of ryegrass in a sward.”

Ideally, 70% of the grass plants should be ryegrass. If there’s less, productivity begins to be significantly compromised. “Examine a metre square area and work out the ryegrass population,” he adds. “If there’s between 70% and 80% perennial ryegrass content then overseeding – rather than a full reseed – can renovate a ley and extend its productive life.”

Correct mixture choice for overseeding is important as the newly sown grasses need to compete with the existing sward. A high inclusion of Tetraploid grasses is recommended as they tend to be larger seeded and more competitive with the established plants.

“Overseeding is also a great way of introducing or increasing the clover content in the sward,” he adds. “Sowing clover in May and June, when soil temperatures have warmed up, means the clover should establish quickly and be able to better compete with surrounding grasses. A pelleted clover, with a mix of clover leaf sizes, gives best results.”

Grass ‘shelf-life’

Grass leys are at their most productive in their first year – so a sward sown in 2023, should be at its most productive in 2024. “Fall off is gradual but inevitable. By year five, a ley’s productivity could be just 60% of year two and the dry matter yield from a grass sward can decrease by about five tonnes/ha from year 1 to year 4.

Ideally, 20% of grassland should be reseeded each year. This keeps grassland on a five year rota and offers the opportunity to maximise sward productivity. Reseeding-Grass

Even with higher fertiliser and fuel prices, Mr Spence says that the cost of a reseed is easily justified and will pay for itself in improved output from the sward in little over a year.

“It costs between £550 a hectare and £850 a hectare to reseed, depending on whether it’s an overseed or a full reseed,” he says. “But the dry matter output and forage quality should be significantly improved. The new ley should produce more than 33,000MJ per hectare of energy, which is enough to produce 6300 litres of milk. At 40p a litre, this is more than £2500 in milk value. So there’s no issue over justifying the cost.”

He points out the value of choosing a high quality tried-and-tested grass seed mixture suited to the farm and the sward’s purpose makes economic sense.

“It costs the same to sow an average grass seed mixture and a high quality proven mixture. Between 25% and 30% of the reseed cost will be spent on seed, if you opt for a high quality mixture, or around 20% for a standard mixture” he says.

“So there’s a marginal difference in price but on farm trials with new varieties and mixtures show a big difference in yield and feed value which farmers can take advantage of.”

Reseed timing

Reseeding in spring tends to be less popular than in autumn, primarily because it means taking a field out of production during peak grass growing time, despite warmer conditions favouring good establishment and less chance of competition from weeds.

“Less availability of pesticides has altered reseeding decisions. We can’t rely on their use in reseeds, so instead we’re looking more to a rotation to break the bug cycle to help ensure a successful reseed.”

One option may be a quick growing brassica such as Skyfall, sown in May after first cut silage and giving several high protein rounds of grazing, starting as early as late July when the grass growth has slowed down. “We call this crop a bounce-back brassica as it can be grazed, closed up and after an eight-week regrowth, re-grazed ahead of an autumn reseed.”

For those looking for a second cut or grazing round prior to a reseed, a kale or brassica hybrid or stubble turnips sown in July or August will provide a grazing crop in autumn and winter ahead of a spring reseed.

“There are lots of options when it comes to maximising output from grassland, and cutting costs in this area is false economy. There are many other areas to look at before making cuts here.

“And bear in mind that reseeding, oversowing and fertiliser use go together. Younger, healthier grasses will make better use of fertiliser applications than older swards, which means that more fertiliser is turned into grass and feed value in a healthy fresh grass sward.”

Find out more

To see the full range of Sinclair McGill mixtures and find your nearest distributor, click here

To download the Sinclair McGill Grass and Forage Handbook, click here

Sinclair McGill Grass and Forage Handbook_Cover

To find out more about LG Skyfall Bounce Back Brassica, and download a free Growers’ Guide.

Skyfall bounce back brassica brochure front cover

Choosing grass seed mixtures
Reseeding – or at least overseeding – every five years is essential for dairy farmers taking grassland productivity seriously.

This costs between £550 a hectare and £850 a hectare, according to Limagrain UK’s forage crop manager John Spence.

“Of this, between 25% and 30% will be spent on seed, if you opt for a high quality mixture, or around 20% for a standard mixture” he says, adding that cutting corners here amounts to a false economy.

“There’s a big difference between a good and a standard seed mixture, in yield and feed value,” he adds, “yet it costs the same to carry out the work and only a small difference in seed costs.

“And there’s a great deal of knowledge and skill that goes into designing our best seed mixtures, and into the testing and trial work before they even hit the shelves. Farmers would be foolish to dismiss this.”

The UK’s Recommended Lists are compiled annually by a panel of industry specialists. There’s a constant influx of new varieties pitching for a place on this list.

Be discerning when choosing seed mixtures

“The selection process is pretty robust though,” adds Mr Spence. “A newcomer has to show a clear improvement on existing varieties, based on extensive trials, before being accepted, such as yield, metabolizable energy, D value and ground cover.”

John Spence_Forage Manager_Oct21 (1)There are also secondary characteristics that are considered, more specific to the type of grass, such as disease resistance, and seasonal yield, and winter hardiness.

Much of the forage quality trial data used by the selection panel is based on results in the early growing season; something Limagrain is keen to complement with its own data from trials that run throughout the whole growing season.

“The more data we have, the better we can understand a variety’s strengths, so we use the recommended list trial data alongside our own before selecting varieties for our mixtures,” he adds. “We compare varieties on their seasonal performance and also their year on year results, so we take their lifetime performance into account.

“This additional data highlights the ‘staying power’ of the variety right across the season, so it’s important information for growers, and for us as we select varieties for our mixtures.”

Pick and mix

The second, and equally important stage, in selecting the right grass seed is choosing a mixture of varieties that work well together. Designing these mixtures lies with the individual grass seed companies and the mixture’s success is dependent on their skill and expertise.

Limagrain UK Grass Trials (1)These mixtures should build on the characteristics of individual varieties, particularly when it comes to yield. “But the varieties should also complement each other, and this will be particularly evident in feed value. This is an increasingly important component of home-grown forages in the light of record highs for bought-in feed prices,” says Mr Spence.

“It’s important to use the right ingredients – or varieties – for each mixture, depending on its purpose. For example, the varieties used in a cutting mixture should prioritise yield while maintaining high feed value at silage time, whereas varieties for grazing need to perform throughout the season, with dual-purpose mixtures s carefully balancing the two key parameters.”

Put to the test

Limagrain compares its own mixtures and other commercially marketed mixtures in field trials. It’s been running since 2013, when it introduced a yield and feed value stamp of approval to the best; those achieving high performance in both areas.

“We’re the only company in the UK to have a bank of data on the performance of grass seed mixtures that is updated annually. It’s enables merchants and farmers to check out the latest ranges”.

The feed value of grass mixtures is measured using near infra-red – NIRS – spectroscopy. “We have a benchmark for energy, sugar, protein and digestibility components. Mixtures achieving or surpassing these, and meeting our benchmarks for yield, carry the LGAN accreditation.”

Popular mixtures for dairy farmers that carry the LGAN accreditation in the company’s Sinclair McGill range include Colossal Silage – a short term ley for cutting, dual-purpose Prosper and one of the best grazing mixtures available, Turbo.

“Take Turbo, this has five perennial ryegrasses in its mix – two intermediate and three late varieties. Within these are three tetraploids and two diploids. It also includes the grazing Festulolium Matrix and a white clover blend.

“So we have species that can withstand drier conditions, have exceptional yield characteristics, can fix nitrogen and provide growth through the season. And the Matrix grows at cooler temperatures so gives ‘shoulders’ to the crop in spring and autumn. And collectively this mix meets the LGAN combined feed value and yield benchmarks.”

Trial results show the value of improved grass seed mixtures. For example, the relative dry matter four-year mean yield for Turbo was 4% above the control, and the four-year mean sugar (WSC) content to digestible fibre (dNDF) placed Turbo ahead of the other mixtures on the trial, as shown in Figure 1.

Fig. 1 Four year sugar (WSC) (%) vs dNDF (%)

Limagrain grass mixture trials - Four year sugar (WSC) (%) vs dNDF (%)

Figure 2 shows the added value of high feed value seed mixtures in milk income. “An extra 1% in digestible fibre from forage can add 0.25kg of milk a day, and based on the performance of Turbo across four years, this gave an additional £81 per cow per year based on 300 milking days.

“The benefit is even higher when we consider savings from bought in feeds and a higher milk price.”

Fig 2. Turbo vs Long term dual-purpose ley performance 2017-2022

Limagrain UK grass Trials - Sinclair McGill Turbo vs Long term dual-purpose ley –performance 2017-2022








Quality control

No ‘full package’ seed mixture would be complete without quality checks. If you buy a premier seed mixture you expect high quality clean seed,” adds Mr Spence. “There are legal standards for germination and purity and there are higher voluntary standards.”

The standard level for germination is 80% and 96% of the seed must be pure. The higher voluntary level for purity is 98%. Limagrain adds another 10% to this germination level and tests seed every six months to make sure standards are maintained.

A top quality grass seed mixture could cost £230 a hectare, for example, compared with a standard of the shelf mixture at £175 a hectare, at a standard sowing rate of 35kg of seed per hectare for a reseed.

If there’s a difference of 10% in germination and 2% in purity, this brings the cost per viable seed to a similar cost. But the higher quality mixture will have the yield and feed value assurances too.

“So farmers can afford to be discerning and spend their money on a mixture with a pedigree – a background of reliable recommended varieties, with supporting trial data compiled into a mixture that is proven to do the job they want it for.”

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Find out more

To see the full range of Sinclair McGill mixtures and find your nearest distributor, click here

To download the Sinclair McGill Grass and Forage Handbook, click here

Sinclair McGill Grass and Forage Handbook_Cover

Weighing up grass mixtures
Are multispecies seed mixtures a silver bullet or are there other options to consider when reseeding grassland?

Multispecies grass mixtures have grown in popularity in recent years, with sales at least doubling year on year since 2019. And for good reason, says Limagrain UK’s forage crops manager John Spence. But he suggests growers weigh up the pros and cons, look at alternatives, and decide what’s right for their own situation.

“Multispecies mixtures tick a lot of boxes, offering numerous benefits, but when reseeding, growers shouldn’t be quick to discount a good ryegrass and clover mixture. These can bring many of the same benefits, along with other advantages that might suit some situations better.’

He says that in many cases, multispecies are compared with a ryegrass-only swards, and the benefits of drought resistance, lower inputs and more continuous summer growth shine through in mixtures with a wider range of varieties and herb species.

“But if you add clover to the ryegrass mix, you bring some of the benefits of a multispecies mixture such as a reduced fertilizer need and more continuous growth through summer. Plus a few more advantages, such as flexibility of use and longevity, that might appeal to some.

“For example, ryegrass and clover mixtures are better for dual purpose use. They can be cut for silage earlier in the season, then closed up and grazed,” he says, adding that while it’s not impossible to use a multispecies mixture for cutting, they tend to be more difficult to manage.

“If multispecies swards are destined for cutting, they’re best treated as a multicut crop so the chicory doesn’t get too woody and undigestible.”

Likewise, there’s little margin for error in the grazing management of multispecies swards if their feed value is to be realised.

“Grazing multispecies swards too tightly will reduce the persistence of the herbs, but if it’s left to grow too long, herbs such as chicory will become woody. It’s not quite as straight-forward as a ryegrass and clover sward.”

But the inclusion of herbs such as the deep-rooted chicory and plantain in multispecies swards do add drought-tolerance benefits and contribute to soil health and structure. “These can be very valuable in areas with light soils, and where drought conditions are common.

“But in less extreme areas, tetraploid perennial ryegrass can be added to a grass and clover mixture. These are deeper rooted than diploid varieties and can withstand dry conditions better, and tend to be higher yielding and more digestible.

Likewise, he points out that all grass swards benefit soil health and structure and are an ideal addition to a cropping rotation. Remember too that including clover in a ryegrass mixture brings nitrogen-fixing benefits and offers a more consistent growth pattern through summer.”

And if extending the grazing season is a priority, both grass/clover and multispecies mixtures can be formulated to include species such as Timothy and Festulolium which start growing at lower temperatures than ryegrasses. “This adds ‘shoulders’ in spring and autumn and extends the grazing season,” he says.

Herb longevity

Some herb species claim anthelmintic properties to mitigate the worm burden in livestock whilst also adding feed value, in addition to their deep roots that enhance soil structure and grow in drier conditions.

Which species to include in a multispecies mixture is something Mr Spence says growers should also consider carefully. “The mixtures can get very complicated, and can include 15 to 20 different components, some of which will be more difficult to establish.”

Typically herb species such as plantain and chicory establish well across a wide range of soil types and work well in combination with productive grass species such as ryegrasses, Festulolium and Timothy. Other herb species such as sainfoin and sheeps parsley are much more difficult to establish successfully.

“Grass chicory and plantain, with red and white clover, are the simplest and maybe most reliable multispecies mixtures. If more complex mixtures are being considered, and these are generally more expensive, growers should get local advice on their suitability to the area and its soils, and the track record of establishment of the various varieties. Otherwise you might be paying for something you never see.”

The persistency of the herbal varieties will also affect sward longevity. “The herbs tend to die out quicker than the grasses and clover,” adds Mr Spence. “If we get four years from a multispecies sward we’re doing well. By then most herbs will have been ‘pushed’ out by the more competitive grass varieties with just the ryegrass and clover surviving.”

A ryegrass and white clover sward reseed should last for five years. “There’s a significant difference here with a multispecies sward, so this needs to be considered when costing a reseed.”

The environmental aspects of multispecies swards and its ability to attract a diverse range of wildlife has attracted some growers to these options. “And a main driver has been the countryside stewardship payments for crops grown in England meeting certain criteria. If the mixture complies with the rules and the crop meets the growing requirements it can attract £382 a hectare.

“It’s all about managing risk and balancing the conditions on the farm with the requirements from the crop, and working out which mixture will be the best match.”

Multispecies or a glass clover mixture – Considerations

• Soil type, weather conditions/drought risk
• Grazing only or cutting/grazing requirements
• Grazing management resource
• Input requirements/availability of slurry
• Productivity and persistency through the season
• Sward longevity
• Eligibility for and attractiveness of conservation /environmental schemes