Grassland reseeding: ploughing and cultivation top tips

From setting up the plough correctly to overseeding, our top tips act as a handy reminder when cultivating for a reseed.

Back to: Establishing grassland reseeds

Preparing the seedbed

An appropriate seedbed can be achieved using a variety of tools, such as power harrows, chain harrows, discs and levellers. Regardless of technique, it is important to ensure: 

  • A fine, crumbly tilth is achieved. If soil aggregates are too large, the seed will fall too deeply into the soil to germinate
  • The seedbed is properly consolidated to achieve good seed-soil contact and avoid it drying out
  • The soil is cultivated to the appropriate depth. It can be sufficient to have the second cultivation pass shallower than the first, g.a power harrow at 10 cm and then 5 cm depths can give a firm seedbed 
  • The seedbed is level to ensure an even drilling depth

Ploughing top tips

Take time to set up the plough: 

  • Check manufacturer’s specifications for tyre pressure to minimise wheel slip but avoid compaction
  • After the first pass, check the right furrow depth is being achieved and the plough is working at 90° to the ground, turning the sod over completely. By doing this, good contact can be maintained with the soil below the sod. This can avoid a plough pan forming and keep water and air moving down through the soil profile
  • The front furrow width should also be checked to ensure even furrows at each pass 
  • Throughout the operation, regularly check the correct furrow is being achieved
  • Consult manufacturer’s instructions for fine-tuning plough set-up
  • Avoid ploughing too deep (>15 cm), as this will move the fertile soil below the root depth
  • Secondary cultivations should be carried out promptly to achieve a crumbly structure and consolidate the seedbed, to reduce drying out of the topsoil

Minimum cultivation top tips

  • Graze tightly or mow to minimise the trash generated
  • Applying lime prior to cultivation will neutralise any organic acid released from the trash 
  • Take time to set up the cultivator. Check manufacturer’s specifications for tyre pressure. After the first pass, check that the optimum depth of soil disturbance is being achieved
  • Cultivate in multiple directions across the field to achieve maximum soil disturbance
  • Chain harrows may help remove excess trash
  • The slower the forward speed of the machines, the better the finish
  • Cross drill in multiple directions for a denser sward

Overseeding top tips

  • Select times of year when existing sward is less aggressive, e.g. early summer
  • Preparing areas with a chain harrow can help improve seed-soil contact 
  • Graze sward tight or mow to reduce competitiveness of existing grass 
  • Avoid applying nitrogen as it will boost existing sward
  • After seeding, roll or harrow
  • Be aware of areas prone to slug infestation

Useful links

Rejuvenating pastures this spring

Now is the time for autumn reseeds