Grass growth: Could do with a good dash of rain

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen very little rain across most parts of the country. In some areas, grass growth is beginning to become affected.

Soil moisture deficits are now evident in some areas. Soil moisture deficits are ranging between 30mm and 57mm in well and moderately drained soils and between 26mm and 62mm in poorly drained soils.

According to Teagasc, where there is “greater than 25-30mm (1in) of a deficit, this will have a negative impact on grass growth, and at 50mm (2in) or more grass growth is significantly reduced”.

Unfortunately, for this coming week, rainfall will continue to be below average for most parts of the country.

“The coming week will bring a good deal of dry weather after some rain or showers on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Rainfall amounts will be between 30% and 6% for most of the country and will be between 60% and 110% in the northwest and north,” stated Met Éireann.

In terms of grass growth rates, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 64kg DM/ha in Ulster, 60kgDM/ha in Leinster, 64kg DM/ha in Connacht and 63kg DM/ha in Munster.

A significant dip from last week’s grass growth rates of 69kg DM/ha in Ulster, 72kg DM/ha in Leinster, 72kg DM/ha in Connacht and 72kg DM/ha in Munster.

Avoiding A Grass Deficit

If grass-growth rates begin to fall below demand, actions will have to be taken now to avoid your farm cover falling into dangerous territory.

Dangerous territory would be allowing your average farm cover to drop below 550kg DM/ha.

Advice during low grass-growth rates:
  • Increase the rotation length to 21 days plus;
  • Reintroduce a paddock closed for silage into the rotation;
  • Continue to reach residuals of 4cm;
  • Continue to spread nitrogen (N);
  • Increase meal being fed by 1-2kg;
  • Sell off any cows earmarked for culling;
  • Introduce silage.

You must remember grass grows grass, so running down your farm cover will only affect growth rates even further.

If increasing the amount of meal being fed, it should be increased gradually – if being fed at a low level; a sudden increase in meal feeding could put an animal at risk of developing acidosis.

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