The more grass I grow, the more money I can make - top beef farmer
5 steps to improve soil fertility on your farm
In the words of Ger Dineen, who was awarded the Beef Grassland Farmer of the Year in 2017, “the more grass I grow, the more money I make”.
Currently, it is estimated that about 5.6t grass DM/ha/year are utilised nationally on drystock farms according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey.
Data from the best commercial grassland farms and research indicate that the current level of grass utilised on drystock farms can be increased significantly, to greater than 10t DM/ha, where 14t DM/ha is grown and utilised at 75pc.
Optimising soil fertility, improving grazing infrastructure and reseeding adequately are all required to achieve higher levels of grass production and utilisation.
To achieve greater change in the amount of grass utilised, farmers will need to upskill their grazing management practice according to John Maher of Teagasc.
“Improving soil fertility is the first step in increasing grass growth on you farm” said John Maher.
Five steps to improve your soil fertility
- Have soil analysis results for the whole farm and soil sample every two years
- Apply lime as required to increase soil pH up to the target pH for the crop
- Aim to have soil test P and K in the target Index 3 in all fields
- Use organic fertilisers as efficiently as possible
- Make sure the fertilisers used are properly balanced
Ger Dineen reseeds 10pc of the farm a year saying it’s a simple decision. “I’d see far more profit after investing in reseeding than saving my money in the bank, it makes no sense not to correct an underperforming paddock”.
After soil testing, Ger sprays off the old sward at the start of August. He then mows off after five days for bales or tight grazing. He then uses the Spring Harrow after two weeks and then applies lime and fertiliser.