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Fertiliser spreader spreading fertiliser

2019 was an excellent year for grass production and similar conditions will be favourable for farmers in 2020. January is a key time for planning for early grass growth and Nitrogen (N) will be the driving force of production. The restriction dates under the Nitrate Regulations are outlined below; showing where and when we can apply N and Phosphorus (P) once again. It is important to note that these restrictions do not apply to Lime and Potassium (K) as these nutrients can be applied all year-round, once conditions are favourable.  Some new measures now apply to derogation farmers and some of these begin in 2020. These are published under “Nitrates Derogation Review 2019” and are available from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Map showing fertiliser zones for application periods


Storage Periods for Manure

Prohibited Application Periods    
  (Weeks) Chemical Fertilisers Organic  Fertilisers Farmyard Manure
A 16 15th of Sept – 12 th of Jan 15th of Oct – 12th of Jan 1st of Nov – 12th of Jan
B 18 15th of Sept – 15th of Jan 15th of Oct – 15th of Jan 1st of Nov – 15th of Jan
C Donegal & Leitrim 20 15th of Sept – 31st of Jan 15th of Oct – 31st of Jan 1st of Nov – 31st of Jan
C* Cavan & Monaghan 22 15th of Sept – 31st of Jan 15th of Oct – 31st of Jan 1st of Nov – 31st of Jan

Source: DAFM

Time of application

Farmers should apply N at the earliest opportunity available to promote early grass growth. Grass growth will begin once soil temperatures are between 5 and 6°C. While soils are currently at that temperature level, this may not continue if poorer weather comes between now and late March. Apply N when you are in the open period and when ground and weather conditions are favourable. The response to the application of N will be most effective when the P, K and Lime status of your soil is in order. Teagasc research has shown that every 1kg of N applied in early spring gives in the region of 10kg DM of grass, this can be a significant saving to the farmer.

What to apply

You can apply up to 30 kg/ha of N for early grass production and it can be applied inorganically in the form of Urea and CAN or organically as slurry and farmyard manure (FYM). It may suit to use slurry for your first grazing, especially if tanks are filling up.  Applying cattle slurry of 7% dry matter (DM) at 2000 gallons per acre is equivalent to 10-10-60 chemical fertiliser. It is good practice to do a slurry nutrient analysis to get a full picture of the DM and nutrient content. To get the best value from N in terms of growth and to reduce grass contamination, it is recommended to use a trailing shoe or band spreader. Spread the slurry on drier paddocks but, if possible, reserve slurry for silage ground, where there is a greater requirement for nutrient replacement following P and K offtakes.

Urea conversion process

Urea goes through three steps before being available to the plant. Urea first converts to Ammonium by hydrolysis using urease enzyme.  This Ammonium is converted to Nitrate via Nitrite. Plants can utilise Ammonium and Nitrate but under normal Irish soil conditions, it converts to Nitrate before grass uptake.

The reaction time for Urea to be converted to Ammonium depends on temperature and soil conditions, but typically, reaction will begin to occur around 24 hours after application and will be complete within 3 to 7 days. This reaction time is slowest in cooler, waterlogged soils.

When Urea is applied in unfavourable conditions to bare pastures or in windy conditions, research has shown it is subject to losses due to volatilisation.  It is best practice to spread Urea with 7 to 10 mm of rain forecast within the following 2 days to ensure good soil incorporation, and to reduce these losses.

Target Max protected by Limus®

Target Fertilisers have worked with BASF to develop a new range of Urea based fertilisers with a urease inhibitor, Limus®, that contains two active ingredients, namely NBPT & NPPT. These Limus® protected products offer a cost-effective solution to reducing emissions. It slows the transfer process of the Urea to Ammonium, reduces Ammonia losses by up to 98% and increases availability of N for plant uptake. The Limus® concentrate is sprayed onto the Urea granules, giving protection to each and every granule. Target Fertilisers have three products in this range: UreaMax; UreaMax + S; 29-0-14 + S Max. Target Fertilisers inhibitor products are approved by Teagasc and contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and Ammonia.

Target Urea Products Product description
Urea 46% Traditional straight N product
Urea 38% + 7 S Urea plus added Sulphur (S)
Earlygraze ( 27-2.5-5) NPK based Urea product
UreaMax Limus protected 46% Urea
UreaMax + S Limus protected 38% Urea with added S
29-0-14 + S Max Limus protected N with added K & S



Target Fertilisers recommend applying 24 units of N per acre, a rate of 30kg/ha.


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