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FORAGE AND NUTRITION
Guide 2017
Dr PJ O'Connor
Grassland Agro
Delivering your farm's true potential
Ireland has an enormous competitive advantage for dairy, beef and sheep products due to our potential to grow high
quantities of nutritious grass. This is reflected at farm level by the consistent and convincing message that the more feed (ie.
grass) that can be grown and utilised within the farm gate, the more profitable and sustainable the farming system
Good soil fertility is critical. Soil management is a key factor
that will determine the farm's overall potential to grow grass. In
any year, weather is obviously critical. There will be good years
and bad years when grass production on all farms will vary.
However, well managed fields with fertile soils will outperform
soils with lower fertility.
Assess your farm's fertiliser programme
Approximately 20 per cent of variable costs on most farms are
spent on fertilisers. Making sure this money is spent wisely on
the right products to suit your soils and your farm, and applying
them at the right rates and times, are vital to ensuring that
this money delivers a return on overall productivity and profit.
Properly fertilised soils will deliver the best results.
Allow the soil to work for you
Fertiliser on its own won't grow all the grass you'll need. In
many cases more than half of the total nutrients used by
grass comes from the soil rather than from direct uptake of
applied fertiliser. Soils contain large total amounts of nutrients.
However, soils with low pH, poor biological activity and/or
structure and drainage problems will release less of these
nutrients to plants for uptake. In these soils, more nutrients
either get locked up or lost completely to water or air.
Therefore, you are losing grass growth potential when this
happens. The response to fertiliser being applied will also be
dramatically reduced.
Soil fertility targets that every farm should aim for:
Soil sample results for the whole farm;
Soil pH > 6.0 in every field;
Soil P and K levels at optimum levels; and
Apply slurry to maximise its fertiliser value.
Use the right fertilisers to balance the overall nutrient supply.
Major nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K)
need to be balanced with all the essential nutrients, including
sulphur (S), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca) and trace elements
where required.
Fertiliser and soil fertility management options
Grassland Agro o ers a range of fertilisers that have enhanced
capability over standard NPK fertilisers. The range includes
a number of products that either combine individual or a
combination of technologies that improve soil fertility and
FORA
GE AND NUTRITION
Gui
de 2017