Teagasc issues grass growth warning
Published 22/03/2016 | 02:30
Farmers have been warned that failure to get nitrogen on grassland now will halve grass growth by mid April.
Teagasc grassland specialist, Michael O'Donovan, said that much of the grazing season would be determined by management decisions taken now.
"Some farmers missed the first round of fertiliser because conditions were so poor, but the target is to get 70 units per acre of nitrogen in order to hit target growth rates of 40kgDM/ha by April 1," he said. "Otherwise growth rates will be halved."
Teagasc's Kerry and Limerick regional manager, John Donworth, said that phosphate and potash applications could be postponed until nitrogen levels were topped up.
"Some grassland is starting to yellow because the plants are dying from lack of nitrogen. So there's an immediate requirement for nitrogen, and to allow tillering to happen," he said.
"Some farmers are fixated on the task of getting out slurry, but they would be more profitable spending their time getting nitrogen out now."
While many farms in the west and northwest are still untrafficable, Teagasc's Sligo drystock advisor, Tom Coll, said that most farmers in his region were well set with silage stocks for another period.
"The land is only starting to dry out - you might get away with a quad, but you couldn't drive a tractor on many fields," he said.
"But we're not really behind any other year. Good farmers around here are growing 8kgDM/ha per day, but it is normally May 1 before we have all stock in the northwest out. full-time"
A Teagasc survey of 50 farmers showed that most achieved the target of grazing 28pc of the farm last month, despite it being one of the wettest months of February on record.