12th September 2022

How can I help the farm to recover after the wet, mild winter?

Firstly one has to recognise that the effects of the wet and mild winter are hugely variable. In some areas the grass has continued to grow throughout the winter months and the question might be when and how to utilise it, whilst at the other end of the scale fields might have been waterlogged for weeks or even months.

At the time of writing it is still very mild but if wet grassland then becomes frozen for prolonged periods, plant death will occur and serious damage will result.

Where serious damage has occurred, be it from frosting or flooding and productivity is impaired, over-seeding, or a full reseed with a high performing mixture should be considered. However this should not be undertaken before an assessment of soil health and structure is undertaken. Dig some test holes to evaluate soils for signs of compaction. Where fields have been under water for long periods, nutrient exchange will not function and in extreme cases soils might have become anaerobic.

Remedial action to alleviate soil compaction should be implemented as soon as conditions allow. After this, one needs to ascertain whether to over-seed, reseed with a new grass ley, or sow a pioneer crop such as Forage Rape or Westerwolds Ryegrass, prior to a full reseed in the autumn. The “pioneer” crop will not only help to condition the soil but also provide useful forage.

(Source: British Grassland Society; Grass & Forage Farmer publication).

Back to News