Grass grown from nitrogen is more economical than feed concentrates
Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30
Attention is turning to getting slurry out, and whether or not to apply nitrogen. After an extremely wet and mild winter, there are still a number of areas where soils are saturated, or haven't dried sufficiently, so patience will be required here.
However, with a somewhat drier start to the year, slurry and fertiliser spreading has commenced for those where the waters have subsided.
This mild winter has provided many farmers with good grass growth, so farms will hopefully be starting the spring with an adequate amount of pasture ahead of the cows.
Irrespective of how much pasture you open with this spring, it is still imperative to employ tools such as the spring rotation planner to ration out the available pasture until the balance date, which will hopefully be sometime in April. This is when grass growth equals grass demand.
Adequate pasture of good quality is an advantageous position to be in as it has the potential to substantially reduce concentrate feed bills in the spring - an ideal scenario when milk price is so low.
At this time of year, using nitrogen (N) fertiliser to promote grass growth is important where stocking rates on the milking platform are moderate to high. This will generally be the case where a dairy herd is calving compactly.
With urea at approximately €400/t, the grass grown from nitrogen is still more economical at around €108/t of grass dry matter than replacing such growth with concentrate - even at a response rate of 8 to 1.
However, this grass must be grown and utilised, so it's important to improve the efficiency of fertiliser use.