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Fertiliser for grassland – think before you spread!

At last it looks like there may be a few dry days coming. Fertiliser applications are all going to be late now so don’t just apply what you have done in previous years.

A lot of leys and new reseeds will take some time to dry out enough to drive on without rutting them, and where there is already a good grass cover of 5-6” and the crop looks green you need to consider if your fertilise it at all. The fertiliser needs to hit the soil and where the grass is long much of it will lodge in the grass and scorch it unless washed off quickly. The wheeling’s will damage the grass and any rutting will increase the risk of picking up soil when the grass is cut which will upset the fermentation. Where there is already good grass cover just aim to cut in mid-April to clear the ground so you can spread slurry and fertilise for the second cut to take at the end of May.

Grass growth is very forward but this grass has been growing all winter so quality will not be as good as grass that starts growing from the beginning of March. There will be some leaf senescence so a May cut could end up with a lot of slimy dead leaf material in the bottom of the sward which does not make good silage.

Where you have swards that are not too far forward (grazed by sheep or permanent pasture) then you do need to get fertilizer on as soon as ground conditions permit but as the spreading date could be 2-3 weeks later than usual you do need to revise your normal application rate. The guideline that has always worked well is no more than 2 units per acre per day (2.5 kg/ha/day) from spreading date to expected cutting date on the low growth potential swards or 2.5 units per acre per day (3kg/ha/day) on productive swards.

Please call us if you want to discuss the situation for your farm.

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