Ley is a piece of land that is put down for a single season or a limited number of years. It is also known as grassland or pasture.
There are three different types of ley that have different outcomes and benefits - short, medium, and long term leys. They can help improve livestock efficiency and control the growth of weeds among other things.
Short Term Ley
On average, short term ley lasts between one and three years. This type of ley is generally a specialist mix containing ryegrass and westerworlds and is best suited for silaging. Short term leys are a great way to grow large crops of quality forage, and they will often provide bulky, high yields.
Short term leys are commonly used when a break crop is required in arable rotations; the grass helps break up pest, disease, and weed cycles. Despite the benefits of short term leys, they lack longevity, meaning there is a need to reseed more frequently and therefore higher costs.
Medium Term Ley
Medium term ley is used for both cutting and grazing. It commonly lasts between three and four years. However this period may increase with careful and effective management.
Medium term ley offers a great compromise when looking to balance the high yield of short-term ley and the longevity of long-term ley.
Long Term Ley
Long term leys have the lowest yield of all three yet last the longest, averaging around five years. This type of ley often comprises of grass and clover species as there is sufficient time for nitrogen to be fixed. The lay is usually grazed but can alternatively be silaged to produce quality forage.
Many prefer long term ley over permanent pasture because of the desirable, sown species contained within. Here at Grass Science Seeds, our GSS Endurance (seed mixture) regularly last over fifteen years, helping to reduce the expense of reseeding whilst avoiding disruption to the soil.
It is possible for ley to revert to permanent pasture if not managed correctly. This happens when the sown species become dominated by weeds and are overtaken in the sward.
For example, swards on acidic soils can often be made up of bent grasses while wet areas favour foxtail. Effective sward management is essential to make the reseed last as long as possible.
Permanent pasture swards are far less productive because they are lower in nutritional value and have less yields. When grazed, stock will be selective over the species they consume. This allows weed species to further outcompete the favoured sown type.