Farming

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A quad and spreader combo gets fertiliser out in all weather

John O'Connell soil sampled the entire farm in 2014 and, using the results, drew up a fertiliser plan to address soil nutrient deficits.

"Firstly, I had to spread lime to address low soil pH on the farm and given that land in Leitrim can be sold both by the acre and by the gallon, this leaves very tight windows to get lime out without causing severe damage to soil," he said.

He explained that he used to spread his first application of fertiliser no earlier than March 17 and that was only on the silage ground which would not have been grazed since the previous autumn, leaving him with insufficient grass during the spring. The remainder of the land got its first application of fertiliser in mid-April after its first grazing.

However, in recent years, he has completely changed this and now the first round of fertiliser is half a bag of Urea/acre in early February.

"A fertiliser spreader purchased for the quad means that I can get fertiliser out even when the tractor wouldn't get through the gate, and this has reduced soil compaction as well as ensuring early application of fertiliser," he said.

"The next two rounds of fertiliser, which begins after the first grazing in early April, is usually 18-6-12 before going back to straight nitrogen in the autumn."

John targets his slurry on the low P and K fields and where he cuts silage to try and replace the P & K taken off in the silage.

Ground conditions often mean that most of the slurry usually goes on after silage cutting.

Grass measuring is now a regular job on John's farm and he stresses that it gives him the information and confidence to make decisions when managing grass during the year.

He also uses netting and plastic wires for the temporary fencing, which is allowing him to keep good grass in front of lambs throughout the year.

Indo Farming