Make most of your on-farm slurry
With chemical fertiliser prices on the rise, nutrient-rich manure can boost the soil needs of your fields
Published 15/02/2011 | 05:00
Making maximum use of slurry as a source of nutrients could be described as a 'no-brainer' for farmers in any year, but it is particularly critical in a year like this when prices for chemical fertiliser are on an upward trajectory.
Teagasc grassland experts Michael O'Donovan, Emer Kennedy and Pearse Kelly have some essential advice for farmer on how to get the most out of slurry this year.
They say that as a valuable source of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), cattle slurry should be applied on the fields that need it most and at the time of year that will give you the best response.
"All of the P and K in slurry is available to be used, and fields that are low in both these nutrients need to be targeted to receive slurry," says Michael O'Donovan.
"On a lot of farms, this will be the silage fields as this is where the feed that eventually produced the slurry came from in the first place."
While the time of year that slurry is spread does not affect the availability or usage of P and K, this is not the case with N.
Half of the nitrogen that is contained in cattle slurry is in an organic form and the other half is contained as ammonium -- the same substance that is in purchased urea fertiliser. It is this ammonium content that farmers can use to replace bought in bagged N.
"Similar to urea fertiliser, there are times of the year that you can expect to get the maximum value of nitrogen from slurry, and this is very much weather dependent," adds Mr O'Donovan.