Although there has been a significant increase in grass seed prices in 2012 this needs to be set against the fact that a good quality ley, that is well managed, is still the cheapest source of energy for livestock. On this basis Limagrain UK stresses that livestock farmers should continue to re-seed their pastures to take advantage of the real cost savings that will be generated from a newly sown ley.
For example, a new grazing ley will yield around 10 tonnes/ha of DM whereas an old pasture may struggle to reach 7 tonnes/ha of DM. This means that it can cost only around 5.5p to produce 1kg of DM yield from a new ley, whilst for an older ley the figure is closer to 9.5p. Similarly, if you look at the comparative figures associated with silage leys then the cost of producing 1kg of DM can be as high as 17p with an old ley – a very significant 7p more than a new ley. It is also important to point out that newer leys also offer other tangible benefits – including at least an extra 1 MJ/kg DM of metabolisable energy. Limagrain's Ian Misselbrook takes up the story.
“Grassland is a worthy investment as older leys are less palatable and grass is less digestible in the rumen. This leads to lower intakes and consequently a reduction in milk and meat output from grass. In addition, weed grasses, which are all too often found in older pastures, do not respond as well to nitrogen fertiliser.”
He explained that the price of grass seed has risen this spring due to high consumption in Europe and North America. In part, this is due to the recent harsh winters in Europe, and summer droughts that have damaged pastures. He says that the global rise in cereal and oil prices has made the production of grass seed more costly.
“Grass seed prices are predicted to keep rising into 2013 so reseeding this year will be cheaper than waiting until next year. In addition these younger leys will also be capable of delivering higher DM yields with better nutritional quality than old leys,” concluded Mr Misselbrook.
Progressive farmers who are keen to re-seed their grass fields and take advantage of all the benefits linked with a new ley can locate and download a comprehensive range of relevant technical publications via Limagrain's user-friendly website ( www.limagrain.co.uk/grass ).