There are a number of things farmers can do to help boost their grass supply in 2022
Many farmers will be left with little option but to reduce the quantity of chemical fertiliser they apply this year due to the massive price hike of these products leaving fears of a grass shortage.
There are a number of things farmers can do to help boost their grass supply in 2022, some of which we will go through now, the rest we will cover in more detail on a Zoom webinar titled ‘Fertiliser & Lime Advise 2022’ on the 21st February next. Registrations details can be found at the end of the article.
This year liming your farm will be the cheapest source to grow grass. With fertiliser prices at over 2.5 times last year’s price farmers will need to look at cheaper alternatives.
By applying 2 tonnes of lime per acre you are potentially unlocking up to 50 units of nitrogen, the equivalent to 2 bags of chemical nitrogen per acre. The cost of spreading 2 tonnes of lime per acre is around €50 versus €72 for 2 bags of nitrogen.
This is a saving of €22 per acre. I would advise to apply lime to grazing ground as soon as weather permits as you will get the benefit of it later in the spring and summer.
Hold off on spreading lime on silage ground until silage is cut, as sometimes lime can contaminate the grass which could reduce the quality of your silage.
Lime also had the benefit of unlocking the phosphorus and potassium locked up in the soil, so if you do apply that bag of fertiliser then you will get more efficient use from your N, P and K.
Leave a gap of 3 months before applying slurry to ground where lime has recently been applied as you will lose the benefit of the nitrogen in the slurry due to an interaction between the lime and the ammonia. Start planning now on what best fits your farm to grow grass for the year ahead.
Remember to consider the nutrient value of slurry when devising your fertiliser plan. Although variable, the nutrient content of cattle slurry is approximately 5 units of P and 32 units of K per 1000 gallons.
The nitrogen content varies from approximately 9 units per 1000 gallons where slurry is applied in spring by low emission means versus approximately 3 units where slurry is applied in summer with the splash plate tanker. Pig slurry typically contains 19 units of N (variable), 7 units of P and 20 units of Potash per 1000 gallons. Several factors will impact on the quantities of slurry you are permitted to import.
Whereas per tonne this product appears to be relatively expensive, it works out cheaper per unit of N than CAN fertiliser as well as being better for the environment.
Farmers who have fields divided will grow significantly more grass than the farmers who are letting their stock have free reign.
That is because of the old saying – ‘It takes grass to grow grass.’ Grass will grow as much between days 14 – 21 after removing stock as it will in the first 14 days
Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the current high fertiliser prises and we can only hope for the best in regards to the weather but our management practices can impact on the quantity of grass on our farms this year.
You can register for the Teagasc Zoom webinar here; http://bit.ly/RNLDzoom. All farmers are welcome and it’s free. Teagasc Advisors Shane Devaney and Enda O’Hart will be presenting, Séamus Nolan, Dairy Advisor, and Donal McCabe will be host and co-host respectively. Follow #RNLDwebinars
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.