Grass Seed Break Crop Delivers Multiple Benefits

Grass seed is a valuable break crop and demand is growing. We caught up with Growers Club member Tom Reynolds and Andrew Bourne of seed merchant T Denne and Sons to find out more.

After eight years’ experience of growing grass seeds, Kent farmer Tom Reynolds is in no doubt of the crop’s value to his rotation.

The whole ethos of the farm business is to enhance the soil and reduce inputs, to help meet a long-term goal of organic certification.

We want to improve soil structure and fertility and grass is a great way of doing both,” says Tom, who manages 250ha of mixed crops from Pent Farm, near Postling.

“Another key reason for growing grass seeds is to reduce our reliance on agrochemicals across the whole rotation.”

Blackgrass control is a key focus. The two-year grass seeds break, which includes grazing and silage cuts, helps achieve this with minimal chemical inputs. Tom has also been able to reduce the amount of herbicide in following crops and he is using at most one application of fungicide a year in his grass seeds.

All seed is grown in two-year leys, so he has halved cultivations on that area, slashing field and machinery costs while easing drilling pressure in the autumn and reducing the potential for soil damage.

Tom concentrates on forage species, growing 38ha of hybrid ryegrass and 30ha of Italian ryegrass, and looks after the agronomy on a further 20ha. A 30ha block of amenity red fescue grass is going into its last year, and will be replaced with ryegrass.

RGT Cordial, a candidate hybrid tetraploid variety, helps with the farm’s zero-tolerance approach to blackgrass thanks to its aggressive growth hab