With a lot of silage harvested or ready to be harvested in the next week or so, replacing offtakes on surplus paddocks or applying P and K for second-cut is essential.

While the weather earlier on in the week was that bit cooler and wetter, we are hopeful that the weekend will bring with it its annual June bank holiday settled period that sees contractor and farmers scramble to get grass cut and harvested.

We are still seeing a lot of farms in a surplus of grass, with average growth rates on drystock farms now sitting at 63kg DM/ha, while demand is only sitting at 40kg DM/ha. As a result, pre-grazing yields are high on most farms, with an average PGY of 1,850kg DM/ha recorded on PastureBase Ireland. The weekend may provide a window for these farms to whip out some paddocks along with first-cut and get some more ideal covers (1,300-1,400kg DM/ha) in front of stock.

Replacing nutrients

Paddocks mowed out and baled need to see nutrients returned to ground. When a paddock is grazed, only 40% of P and 10% of K is removed as the animal recycles the nutrients in dung and urine. Paddocks cut for silage remove 100% of P and 100% of K, meaning chemical fertiliser or organic manure (slurry or dung) will have to applied to replace the off takes. If surplus bales are taken off a paddock, 2,000 gallons/ac of dilute slurry or one bag/acre of 0-7-30 for every three to four bales/ac harvested will replace the majority of P and K.

For second-cut ground, research from Teagasc Grange shows a high grass growth response to N application. Where slurry is available, as it is on most farms, 2,000-2,500 gallon/acre should be applied on silage ground, ideally using LESS. Damp, overcast weather is ideal for slurry application.

William Treacy, Hackballscross, Co Louth

Growth is still very solid, with the showers of rain and overcast conditions making it ideal for spreading slurry back on to our first-cut silage ground. It was cut on 17 May and was lifted on 18-19 May, in ideal conditions. Ten acres of paddocks were pitted alongside the main crop, with the overall pit size being similar to last year.

While harvesting was a week earlier this year, a lot of the silage ground didn’t get grazed off in spring. On the grazing ground, I have been applying 20-25 units protected urea/acre while conditions are damp and growth was good, as we are very prone to drought on this farm. Breeding is going well, with four bulls turned out with three batches of cows and a batch of heifers.

System: Suckler to beef

Soil Type: Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha): 1,086

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day): 81

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day): 77

Niall O’Meara, Killimor, Co Galway

The tanks in the yard are now empty, with all ground having received slurry at some point this year. Grazing ground has been topped up with 15 units N/acre, with all silage ground receiving one bag/ acre of 38N urea. I’d be hoping to cut this ground in five weeks’ time, weather and growth dependent. Ten acres of ground have been baled out so far, with one five-acre paddock yielding 31 bales and another paddock yielding 37 bales. Definitely in the last eight to 10 days grass has begun to stem out, but I am using autumn-calving cows to clean up paddocks after priority stock. My bull weanlings went in to a cover of 1,900kg DM/ha earlier in the week, but this will be grazed down by the cows following them.

System: Suckler to weanling

Soil Type: Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha): 536

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day): 52

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day): 34

Ger McSweeney, Milstreet, Co Cork

We are getting some savage rain here over the last while, making grazing off paddocks very hard. As well as that, cattle are flying through the wet grass, and I have to move cattle often to prevent excessive poaching. Paddocks got some damage done to them the last round, so I am really trying to limit damage on this round. It’s more akin to February grazing at the minute, with ground being very tender. I cut and baled my driest field last week and got it in, in dry conditions, yielding nine bales/acre. Grass has grown savage in the last two or three weeks, with covers doubling or trebling on some silage ground. There was a window of dry weather on Monday, which allowed me to get fertiliser application up to date.