A poor time for grass growth
Published 23/02/2010 | 05:00
Grass growing was almost non-existent last week. Sharp frosts every night have meant that soil temperatures are at, or just below, zero.
Air temperatures during the day aren't much better. Consequently, we are having little or no grass growth.
On the plus side, ground conditions have improved dramatically, particularly on well-drained soil. This has meant that cows have been very busy removing all the dead material that has accumulated in our swards over the winter months. Calved cows have been able to clean out these swards right down to the base. This should ensure high quality grass in the second rotation, if and when grass growth recovers.
Dairy farmers have also used the good ground conditions to get out slurry. Remember, this is valuable slurry from a nitrogen point of view because each 1,000 gallons will contribute eight to 10 units of available nitrogen.
Many dairy farmers have stopped spreading bagged nitrogen, the reasoning being, why spread bagged nitrogen since ground temperatures are so low and there is little or no grass growth?
I look at it differently. Ground conditions for spreading could not be better. Fair enough, there is no growth at present, but getting nitrogen out is a job done at an increasingly busy time of the year.
The nitrogen won't disappear and the frost does it no harm. As soon as we get wind from the south, growth will start again. It's now nearly March, silage is scarce and we need all the grass growth we can get.
How poor a year so far for grass growth is well demonstrated by the figures from Curtin's farm. Last week, growth was only 2kg per day.