Don't let the rain ruin grass growth
The depressing summer weather conditions have continued. As a consequence, many farmers, especially those on the wetter farms, are feeding silage and supplement on a daily basis.
Cows have been housed on numerous farms either by night, with an on/off grazing regime, or full-time, where grazing conditions and grass availability remain poor. It seems to be Murphy's law at this stage that lower milk prices are coinciding with higher costs, with this year's profitability severely challenged by this dull and wet summer.
However, although the inclement weather has continued, a decrease in rainfall from deluges of greater than 40ml per week to closer to 25ml per week has seen a small improvement in ground conditions on our farm in Co Kerry. This development has been matched on many others, too.
A walk of the farm revealed that paddock conditions ranged from reasonably firm to soft with wet patches. And some marginal ground was still waterlogged. At this stage, our grass looks 'hungry', with a yellowish-green colour evident throughout the majority of the paddocks.
But the paddocks that haven't received fertiliser in more than four weeks look most alarming. The grass here is slightly brown and growing very poorly. The slight ease in rainfall has increased the opportunity to spread fertiliser. But the question is: where, when, what and how much fertiliser to spread?
Here are a few interesting facts about nitrogen and wet weather to help you consider the options:
nNitrate is essential for plant growth and is perceived mainly as a chemical fertiliser. However, much of the nitrate found in soil is produced by microbes that break down plant and nitrogen-containing residues.
nThe activity of these microbes is affected by soil temperature and moisture.