Promoting good soil fertility management for increased grass production and profitability on grassland farms was the focus of the Teagasc Soil Fertility Conference, which took place in Lyrath Hotel Kilkenny, today, Wednesday 17thOctober.
Hundreds of grassland farmers and the agri-industry representatives attended the conference to receive updates on the latest nutrient efficiency and fertiliser research as well as practical nutrient management planning tips and advice.
Opening the conference, the Head of Crops Environment and Land-Use programme at Teagasc, Dr John Spink, said: “This conference, which supports the national grass10 campaign and drive for increased on-farm sustainability will help farmers to maximise production and profits on their farms through the efficient use of fertilisers on their grassland. The management of soil fertility levels should be a priority for every dairy and drystock farmer. I would encourage all farmers to follow the five steps for effective soil fertility management which are being highlighted by Teagasc, to achieve this.”
In 2018, two and three cuts of grass silage have been taken to fill the fodder gap on many farms. Mark Plunkett, Teagasc Soil and Plant Nutrition Specialist said: “Intensively cut grass silage removes significant quantities of nutrients at harvest time and may reduce soil fertility. Now is a good time to review soil test results and develop a fertiliser plan in time for the year ahead. Autumn is also a good time to apply lime and to replenish soil K levels especially where extra grass cuts have been taken. This will reduce the likelihood of issues with grass tetany and N loss occurring where urea or slurry is applied in spring”.
According to Dr David Wall, leader of the Teagasc Soil Fertility Research Programme at Johnstown Castle: “Understanding the basic principles or fertiliser management is critical for a sustainable farming business. Fertiliser inputs represent a significant cost but are necessary for driving high grass, milk and meat outputs. Getting the basics correct by applying lime, maximising slurry and manure nutrient resources and selecting the right fertiliser product, and applying it at the right rate and right time will go a long way to improving production, profitability and sustainability on grassland farms”.
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “The challenge facing the industry is to improve soil fertility in order to build fodder stocks on farms, while at the same time achieving environmental objectives. This can only be achieved by improving nutrient management planning at farm level. Farmers need a good understanding of the principles of soil fertility management and a clear plan for its implementation. Teagasc’s online nutrient management planning tool, NMP online, is a first step to achieving this and a key tool in the ongoing campaign to improve soil fertility and fertiliser efficiency. “
The full proceedings from the conference are available at https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/