Comment: Grasstec, heavier soils reaping rewards as light soils dry up again

COMMENT: It’s a tale of two soil types this week. With little rain across the country in the past two weeks, it is the heavier soil types that are doing the best ranging from 60-70 kgDM/ha, while lighter soils in Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny are drying out fast and growths drop to 40-45kgDM/ha.

In general farms continue to increase average farm cover ahead of that needed, with many lightly stocked farms already up to 400kgDM/LU and rotation length already up to 40 days – as shown in the example below from a farm in South Limerick.

In this example the demand through September is 37kgDm/ha/day and with expected high growths the AFC is projected to continue well above the red line target for the farm. Pre-grazing covers are already at 2100kgDM/ha and graze out is suffering. Action is needed

Agriland 050913 Budget before

In this case, the solution is to increase demand by skipping over 3 paddocks with high covers and one paddock with a lower cover but poor quality. Demand increases to 45kgDm/ha , helping to control growth but still allowing an increase in cover, as follows:

  • Agriland 050913 Budget after-1

It must be pointed out that the decisions above are particular to the famr in question with relatively low stocking rate of 2.4LU/ha and on a soil type with plenty of moisture at the moment. Higher stocked dryer farms will not have the luxury of skipping over paddocks at this stage.

Also, in the case the farmer was following behind grazing with 30 units of N as Pasture Sward – further creating the surplus at the moment. He will now stop applying fertiliser until the last week of September – review his grass supply and growing state at that time and decide whether a blanket application on part or all of the farm is necessary. more is needed before the deadline.

Written by Noel Gowen, consultant with Grasstec Dairy Solutions who provide a dairy consultancy, farm infrastructure design and livestock sale service in Ireland and UK.  Noel can be contacted on +353 (0)86 8360285 or [email protected] Keep an eye out for weekly updates on all things grazing including real life examples of grass budgets through the Autumn period on AgriLand.