Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Grass growth rates double off low base

John Donworth, Teagasc
John Donworth, Teagasc
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Grass growth rates have doubled over the past week but farmers are still facing "significant" spring costs.

Teagasc's Kerry and Limerick regional manager John Donworth said there has been a big improvement in grass growth, particularly on reseeded ground. However, he said it was coming off a low base.

The latest PastureBase figures from Teagasc show growth rates around 36kg/DM/ha a day on average.

"We are getting there slowly," said Mr Donworth. "It is important to get silage out of the diet of dairy cows as quickly as possible.

"Under 3pc protein levels are not uncommon. It is on the floor. Fats are over 4pc which is an indication of the amount of fibre in the diet."

Teagasc Moorepark's Michael O'Leary said growth rates were back 40pc this month on last year, and 30pc behind this year so far.

He pointed out the growth rate was 58kg/DM/ha a day in the same week last year.

"We should be growing 55kg/DM and we are not even growing 35kg/DM in many areas," he said.

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He said the soil temperature at Moorepark was 10C, which measured 1.5C lower than the same day last year. However, he said the weather and grass growth was turning and urged farmers to ensure they have 100 units of nitrogen out by the end of April to drive growth.

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