To avoid the possibility of first cut being contaminated by slurry, farmers should cut back on volumes applied from this point onwards, a CAFRE dairy adviser has suggested.

Addressing a meeting held on the McConnell farm outside Armagh on Tuesday, Michael Verner from CAFRE acknowledged that many farmers are under pressure due to the lack of spreading opportunities this spring.

While farmers would often put on around 3,000 gallons per acre for a first cut, he said there is a “real risk” this will not be properly utilised. “It may be a spring, if you haven’t slurry on already, go lighter and then put on more for a second cut,” he said.

A better alternative might be to graze off paddocks and then go in with some watery slurry, he added.

More grass

On many farms, he said there is more grass in paddocks “than you might think,” so these fields should probably be grazed off before any fertiliser is applied. Otherwise, farmers run the risk of grazing getting ahead of cows, once conditions improve.

When it comes to fertiliser applications, he said at current prices straight urea (and protected urea) offer better value-for-money than CAN on a per unit of nitrogen basis, but that straight urea must only be spread in damp conditions.

He also encouraged farmers to look to correct any pH deficiencies as a priority, given that fertiliser is less efficiently used when pH drops below 6.

“There are lot of things you can spend your money on across the farm but nothing gives you a return like lime,” said Verner.