Pastures damaged by pugging or treading during wet weather can quickly put the brakes on the start of a new season, not just in terms of feed that is already lost, but also feed that will be lost if bare patches are left empty.
Remaining ryegrass plants won’t fill these gaps, because they do not have a spreading growth habit.
If appropriate action is not taken, all that will fill the empty space are spring germinating weeds and low value native grasses like poa, thistles, buttercup, docks, summer grasses etc.
Right now it’s a race between the farmer and the weeds. The faster you can patch up any areas of bare ground with ryegrass, the quicker you will get the farm back up to maximum productivity.
Repair plan to-do list
- Walk the farm: check all paddocks, identify areas that have been affected and assess how bad the damage is in each case.
- Consider undersowing: undersowing with Italian or hybrid ryegrass can be a useful short-term fix. This is ideal where the paddock in question is earmarked for full renewal in the next 18 months. Where the paddock has to last longer, undersow with perennial ryegrass seed instead.
- Undersowing should be done as soon as soil temperatures start rising, using 15 – 20 kg treated seed/ha depending on the level of damage. Small areas may need to be leveled or harrowed first.
- If a contractor will be used, mark all the areas to undersow on a farm map, so they can be done in one visit.
- If damage is bad, consider summer crop: this may be the best option to level the paddock and remove any soil compaction. It can be followed by full pasture renewal in autumn 2017.
- Oversowing: this is another option for smaller bare gaps, like gateways or patches where PK troughs have stood in the paddock. Use a higher sowing rate e.g. 30 kg seed/ha because establishment is poorer with broadcasting than undersowing.