Management Hints LEAN SOIL FERTILITY MANAGEMENT Lean, in this case means not wasting P & K on fields with high Soil indices and building up soils low in these nutrients. Huge quantities of N are wasted when soil pH and P are deficient. X Lime, phosphorous and potash levels are slipping into an all-time low with disastrous consequence to grow large quantities of grass. X Phosphorous levels continue to decrease in Irish soils: Grass growth is reduced by 15-30 per cent, and the loss is greatest in spring and autumn, when you really need grass. X Potash is another major mineral required for grass growth: Deficiency reduces yield of grass by 10+ per cent. X Lime (Calcium) is absolutely essential now that we are expected to grow grass with less Nitrogen. In the past Nitrogen was an expensive compensator for low lime. There is no need to remind you that where lime is deficient that (a) ryegrass and clover die out quickly (b) pastures are unpalatable and have low feeding value (c) silage will also have poorer feeding qualities (d) grass yield will be reduced, particularly, at the beginning and end of the year,(e) poorer use of soil N, potassium and phosphorous,(f) better soil structure, drainage and more earth worms. The ideal ph for grassland is 6.5 in the top inch and 6.3 to 6.5 in the top 4 inches. A ph of 6.0 is recommended in high molybdenum soils. X A soil test will save you money and will make money for you. Going from Index 1 to high Index 3 in Phosphate and Potash will grow you an extra 3 tons of grass per hectare without any extra N. X X X JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com culling rate or longer calving intervals for 1st calvers. Our target weights now for heifers are (47 per cent of the cows mature weight): British Friesians: 260 kgs 250 kgs Jersey Crosses: Holsteins: 265 kgs Weigh yours to compare. X Heifers below target must be fed extra meal now: For every 1 kg they are under target will they will need and extra 5 kgs of meal. If they are 10 kgs off target you must feed 50 kgs of meal over the next 30 days. Plan to get them to grass in early February with 2 kgs meal. Animals over target need no meals if they have good silage. X If you are not expanding or changing cow type/age structure you only need 20-25 per cent bulling heifers of your herd size. Sell off the surplus. “LEAN” BITS AND PIECES: Because you are the most important person on the farm make plans that you will be well fed; well rested and in good health for the spring season. f Will you and staff have a dinner every day? f Will you be able to get 7-8 hours’ sleep? If not take steps now to have extra help available. f Have you recently had a personal MOT? f Wives/partners should ensure these questions are asked and addressed because men are procrastinators on such matters. X Spend time in January “training in” new staff/students to your ways of doing things. But make sure it is correct and not in conflict with what the student has learned. X Groups should hold the Profit Monitor meeting in January. f compiling the data be careful to deal with contract In reared heifers correctly and the livestock inventories must balance. f you are below Group averages take action. If f Groups should rotate chairmen every year to keep the group active and vibrant. It is also good training for each member to become chairman. f Your Group should embark on a LEAN project for 2020. X IFAC have a new financial package for its clients, called FarmPRO, which does budgeting and forecasting while giving production date which can be benchmarked against other dairy farmers. The fact that one will have up-to-date financial data throughout the year allowing comparison against the budget will undoubtedly be beneficial. X The following are the spreading guidelines for slurry and N (follow the rules): Slurry/FYM/Nitrogen 12th January 15th January 31st January 31st January Application Date a) 16 week storage zone b) 18 week storage zone c) 20 week storage zone d) 22 week storage zone Best results are got from spreading slurry in spring, so be ready when weather is dry and fine. Use the umbilical system so as not to spoil grass, which many farmers do. Have tanks agitated – of course be careful of slurry gas. The recommended level of nitrogen now for all farmers (regardless of stocking rate) is 23 units of nitrogen per acre for early grass. As protected urea is more cost effective and environmentally friendlier, apply 23units/acre on the above dates on one-third of the milking platform/farm. As 1000 galls watery slurry contains 8-10 units of N, you should apply 2500galls/acre to two-thirds of the grazing area using the umbilical system instead of bag N on the above dates. This recommendation saves money by getting better use of the N in slurry. X Irish Grassland Association Dairy Conference: Charleville, Co Cork, 8 January Happy New Year – 2020 Wishing all my readers a healthy and wealthy 2020. Try and not to worry too much! “Business is based on relationships” 66 LEAN REPLACEMENT MANAGEMENT? Due to yearling heifers being a lot under or over target weights, many farmers’ 1st calvers are producing over 1000 kgs of milk lest than their genetic potential. This also manifests itself in lower lifetime yields and higher