One of the most persistent perennial grass species is cocksfoot. It can thrive in conditions where other grass species would struggle such as moderate to low soil fertility levels and dry conditions. Newer cocksfoot varieties such as SF Greenly have softer, finer leaves than the more traditional varieties whilst still maintaining tolerance to set stocking. Managed well with appropriate companion clovers, cocksfoot can offer a good persistent alternative to other grass species in tough environments.
Cocksfoot should be sown as a component of a dryland permanent pasture mix or as a specialist dryland perennial pasture in conjunction with companion legumes.
When used as part of a mix cocksfoot should be sown between 1.5 - 3.0 kg/ha depending on other grass species in the mix.
Rates in mixes have been traditionally low with older species used as these used to have the tendency to dominate pastures at higher rates.
Newer fine leaved cocksfoot are more compatible with other grass species so higher rates can be used.
Cocksfoot can also be sown at higher rates (6 – 10 kg/ha) as the sole grass component of a specialist dryland permanent pasture.
It should be planted in conjunction with a suitable legume species. One of the best legumes to use with cocksfoot in a dryland situation is subterranean clover.
This is because the growth cycles of the clover and the cocksfoot complement each other rather than competing.
Cocksfoot should be kept short to help maintain its feed quality. Its nitrogen requirements are generally higher than ryegrass which is why compatible legumes must be used.