Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 25 September 2018

How to take full advantage of the fertiliser deadline extension

Can farmers spread slurry whenever they want? Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Can farmers spread slurry whenever they want? Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

In a year where grass is like gold dust, it’s crucial to take every measure to maximise production before the growing season is over.

The priority for all farmers should be to maximise grass grown and utilised this autumn, in the form of grazing and silage making.

Fertiliser Strategy

Nitrogen should be applied at a rate of 25-30 units an acre on the grazing platform according to Teagasc guidelines. Nitrogen will be the key driver of grass growth in the coming weeks as soil moisture increases. Every effort should be made to apply fertiliser sooner rather than later to maximise grass growth potential.

Teagsasc are urging farmers to empty slatted tanks and spread slurry if not already spread and to use a low emissions slurry spreading method if possible.

Teagasc also advises to use a compound fertiliser to spread if farmers have any allowances remaining. There is no limit on Potash (K) rates, it can be spread 365 days of the year. Lime should also be spread on acidic soils (pH<6.2).

The extension of the deadline for spreading chemical fertilisers and organic manure was welcomed by farmers, who are under severe pressure this year to bring in enough fodder for the coming winter after the drought this summer and long spring limited grass availability.

Chemical fertiliser spreading deadline has now been extended until the end of September, while the slurry deadline has been extended until the end of October.

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August Grazing Message

Target rotation lengths is 25-30 days, this will build grass covers for Autumn. Supplementation will also have to be continued to build grass covers. Average farm covers should stand at 850-900kg DM/ha by August 31.

PatureBase figures show that average farm cover is currently 703kg DM/ha, while growth is 55kg DM/ha. If farmers are under any pressure they can control their herds daily demand by either increasing supplementation or remove surplus stock, this will help build grass cover.

Reducing the Demand for Autumn and Winter

Any cows that are showing signs of heat or scanned not in calf should be culled from the herd, especially if there is a feed deficit on the farm. This will reduce demand on autumn grass and winter feed. Farmers should scan early to identify empty cows and cull these cows where feed is scarce. Underperforming cows should also be culled to ease pressure on silage reserves.

Teagasc also is advising farmers to use a Fodder Budget Calculator to identify any fodder deficits on the farm and to make informed decisions to fill in the feed gap.

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