Grass Quality

Grazing fields have started to head out on many farms around the country and grass has become stemmy. This grass has a lot lower feeding value and will just keep them full without them putting on weight.

Topping will be necessary to get these fields back into quality grazing, but with the current growth conditions be careful about topping too much of the farm at the same time for fear that you would check growth too much.

Grass is in short supply on some farms, so some may need to take action to avoid any issues.

Autumn calving cows should be weaned at this stage, and these can be tightened up on bare pasture if you are tight for grass. Treat young stock as a priority, and don’t curtail suckler cows if they are still being bred.

If you are topping, make sure to cut low enough. A disc mower is the ideal machine for the job. Topping too high will only increase the amount of stem in the sward and will serve no purpose. Spreading nitrogen will help maintain leaf in the sward.

Teagasc recommendations are for a farm stocked at 1.75 L.U/Ha or 129kg/N/Ha, you should have 62 kg/N/Ha already spread, with a further 26kg/N/Ha to go out in June/July time.

Total N application and on the farm and time of application must be compliant with nitrates regulations.

Matching nitrogen fertiliser use to stocking density on the farm at different times of the year avoids excessive use. Applying nitrogen fertiliser ‘little and often’ during the growing season gives most efficient response in terms of grass growth.

The mowing/topping of grasslands under a number of actions in the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme is not permitted until after 1 July.

These include the actions of extensively-grazed pasture and low-input grassland, low-input peat grassland and management of intensive grassland next to a watercourse. If grass starts to get ahead of stock, close up more ground for silage to replenish supplies from last year.

Get slurry out on any fields where silage has been removed to replace P and K offtake. Make sure to get slurry and any farmyard manure spread when ground conditions allow.

You never know when ground conditions could take a turn for the worst, so it’s important to get it out when you can to avoid looking at full tanks next September.

Slurry Safety Tips

With lots of slurry on the move this week after silage has been cut, it’s important to be vigilant to the dangers around slurry spreading and handling.

Always use outdoor agitation points where possible, and never enter a shed when slurry is being agitated. Open all doors and outlets to achieve a draft.

One lung full of slurry gas can kill. Let someone know that you are agitating, and keep children out of the yard when slurry is being agitated and spread.

Make sure that all tanks are closed after slurry spreading and the yard is left safe. Remember to maintain a buffer zone of 5 metres at watercourses, and don’t spread slurry if heavy rain is forecast in the next 48 hours.