Fertiliser: Now is your chance to grab the bull by the horns and get spreading

Determination is key to getting the fertiliser out in these difficult spreading conditions and with some good weather in the forecast, now could be your opportunity to get out spreading.

The second round is fast approaching and the low grass growth will mean some farmers will be going into the second round with too low of a cover on their paddocks that were grazed first.

Grass growth rates have been remaining relatively stable over the past few weeks. Currently they are averaging: 7kg DM/ha in Ulster; 13kg DM/ha in Leinster; 13kg DM/ha in Munster; and 11kg DM/ha in Connacht.

So, it is important to get the fertiliser out and boost grass growth before going into the second round.

In addition, many farmers failed to get their first round of fertiliser out, so they should try to get at least some out or run the risk of running out of grass in April.

Soil temperatures are between 5.2º and 7.9º at the moment, and the weather is set to pick up over the coming days – so weather conditions will be excellent for spreading fertiliser.

However, ground conditions may not be. If machinery is tracking the ground, then soil conditions are not suitable for spreading.

Drier fields should be selected for spreading and avoid wet or heavier fields until ground conditions improve.

What to spread

By now, at least one round of nitrogen (N) fertiliser should be spread. If you have not gone with the second round – or even your first round – this week,or even the rest of this month, could be your chance to get some of the area covered.

Farmers who managed to get N fertiliser out in late January or early February, your aim should be to have 70 units/ac of N out by early April. Those that didn’t, should aim to get approximately 40 units/ac of N out this month.

If you have gone with protected urea or urea in the first round, you should consider going in with a compound fertiliser next – for any soils in need of phosphorus (P) and/or potassium (K).

It is important that soils deficient in P are front loaded now using either a straight P fertiliser or a compound fertiliser high in P in one or two of the first rounds; as P plays a key part in kick-starting spring grass growth.

If a high amount of K build up is required, this is better applied in the autumn because excessive amounts of K can lead to grass tetany during the grazing season.

If you haven’t already done so, you should also include sulfur (S) in one of these rounds, as S and N go hand-in-hand for supporting grass growth – 20kg/ha of S (16 units/ac) should be applied.

Many farmers had issues with slurry this year. This break in the weather should allow some farmers to take the pressure off tanks. Any grazed paddocks and silage ground can be targeted with slurry – if the ground conditions allow.

Spread 2,500-3,000 gallons/ac of slurry on grazed paddocks and 3,000 gallons/ac of slurry plus 70 units of N on silage ground – once conditions allow.