Following good weather in February, March started with heavy rainfall and heavy ground conditions in most areas of the country resulting in animals that were out part time needing to be rehoused with the associated costs. This was disappointing given the good grass cover on many farms, however, there has been an improvement in the weather over the past week. Where farms haven’t been grazed to date, there is exceptionally good grass covers. This should be grazed off tightly to 3 – 3.5 cm before silage fields are closed as we want to remove any of the older quality leaves as these will affect silage quality later on.
To date, farmers may have applied half a bag of urea for their early grass. Attention must be paid at this stage to the main nutrients needed in the soil for optimum grass growth, namely Lime (Calcium or Dolomitic), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) and Sulphur (S). Using your most recent soil test results, aim to get all nutrients up to Index 3 for optimum production over the season.
Remember, Lime can be applied at any time of year once ground conditions permit. February was a good month for slurry spreading and if some of this was used on the grazing platform, then allowances must be made for that. If you have low index soils, you might spread the load throughout the season. A good rule of thumb is to front load the P to stimulate grass production and leave the large volume K to apply at the back end of season so that your early K application can be reduced.
In grazing fields, care must be taken on excessive K application due to the risk of luxury uptake by the plant at the expense of Magnesium uptake and thus contribute to the risk of grass tetany. It is important at this stage to be planning a grazing & silage fertiliser programme to maintain the abundance of fresh quality grass on farm and reduce the cost of concentrate feed.
For grazing, famers should use an NPKS compound to encourage root development and increase tillering. Protected Urea would also be a good option from Target Fertilisers’ UREAMAX range and the addition of Sulphur (S) should also be a prerequisite with Urea and grazing compounds to increase the protein content of early grass and increase Nitrogen (N) use efficiency. Before choosing your fertiliser products please consult your advisor to construct a fertiliser programme from recent soil samples and to ensure that you do not exceed the limits for your farm as determined by the most recent Nitrates Directive (SI 605 of 2017).
Select from some of the Target Fertilisers range:
SuperCAN 27% + 4S CCF
27-2.5-5 + S CCF
Richgraze 23 – 2.5- 5 (plus 3% Sulphur, 1.7% Magnesium, 0.12% Copper, 0.11 Manganese, 0.16% Zinc)
Sweetgraze (23% Nitrogen, 3% Sulphur, 6% Sodium, 2% Magnesium)
UREAMAX + S (40% Nitrogen + 6% Sulphur)