Use slurries to reduce fertiliser bills
St Patrick's Day is generally marked as a turning point for farmers. This date is used as a target date to either finish sowing or start sowing, depending on the type of land.
It's also seen as a point where fertiliser should be applied, or perhaps as a time for the second application. It's easy to say every year is different, but plant growth is perhaps a month behind normal. The past few days have helped the recently applied fertiliser to wash in and soils have warmed up a little.
At the time of writing, soil temperatures in the middle of the country are well behind normal, with some soils still struggling to reach 4°C. Growth kicks in at around 6°C which, hopefully, most soils will reach by the end of this week.
Large acreages of crops have been sown over the past two weeks in very good conditions. Growers will continue to focus their efforts on sowing spring barley, spring oats and other crops such as fodder beet, maize and peas. It's late to be sowing spring wheat or spring beans, and if sown now then be prepared to harvest the crop well into September.
Alternative crops such as maize, peas or fodder beet offer opportunities to save on fertiliser inputs and they also help break a rotation and freshen up land. The addition of slurries to these crops offers substantial savings in fertiliser where the slurries are close at hand.
At current prices (CAN €230/t and 0:10:20 at €340) 2,000 gallons/ac is worth €70/ac where 40pc of the nitrogen is used. Ploughing is required to trap the nitrogen to get the best from the slurry prompt. Research from Oak Park has shown that it's possible to utilise at least 50pc of the nitrogen in slurries when incorporated immediately (within six hours) after application.
The utilisation of nitrogen from slurries left on the surface unincorporated for a few days after application can be as low as 10pc.