Poor grass growth means there is real danger of underfeeding cows
Published 23/03/2010 | 05:00
Well, the green shoots have begun to appear at long last. I am not talking about our economy, but about our grassland.
Last week, and over the weekend, there was a definite stir in the grassland plant. It's getting up a head of steam and any paddocks that have been well cleaned out will reap the benefits. The plant will start to grow quickly and in 10 to 12 days time the farm will look a whole lot different.
Growth rates last week were approaching 20kg per day and, while that's nothing to write home about, from where we've come that's progress.
A number of farmers have commented on my statement that all nitrogen spread six weeks ago is now gone. Six weeks ago would bring you back to the first week of February. Was I right to make such a statement?
Nitrogen generally has a six-week turnaround time. If it doesn't grow grass in that period then it never will. Farmers who didn't agree with the statement said we didn't get any rain to wash it through the soil profile. Neither had we saturated ground conditions, which could lead to denitrification -- nitrogen going up into the atmosphere.
The only way you will really find out is to carry out your own little experiment. Don't spread nitrogen for the next three weeks and see how you get on. By the way, I would not advise that course of action.
If you haven't already done so after St Patrick's Day, I would be out with at least 40 units of nitrogen this week, maybe even a bag of urea, depending on the stocking rate. We need every blade of grass to grow for the next month.
How many of you will be grazing the silage ground a second time? It looks likely that the second rotation shouldn't end until April 10 at the earliest. Some silage ground, maybe even 20pc of it, may need to be grazed in the second rotation, otherwise grass covers in the second round may not be at the required level. Time and growth will tell.