Grass growth: Soil moisture deficits still significant in areas

The south-east and south-west of the country continue to have soil moisture deficits (SMDs) over 40mm with grass growth rates continuing to be affected in these areas.

In contrast, SMDs have generally reduced over the northern half of the country with grass growth rates highest in this region. Some poorly drained soils in parts of north Connacht have even reached saturation point.

According to Met Éireann, conditions are set to become “unsettled over the weekend and into next week with many areas receiving above average rainfall amounts over the coming week”.

It also stated that “SMDs are likely to decrease over the weekend, but some restriction to growth will continue in Leinster”.

In terms of average grass growth rates, AgriNet figures are showing 74kg DM/ha in Ulster, 56kgDM/ha in Leinster, 36kg DM/ha in Connacht and 59kg DM/ha in Munster.

Although it is important to note that these are just averages and farms are growing in excess of 80kg DM/ha in some areas.

Grass advice

In areas where grass growth is high and has exceeded demand, this week will probably be the last opportunity – before building grass in August – to maintain grass quality and build fodder reserves through taking surplus paddocks out as bales.

For those in the unfortunate position where grass is currently tight on the farm, cows should be supplemented with high-quality baled silage and 1-2kg of meal.

Farmers in such instances would benefit from scanning cows now – which may be a bit earlier than usual for some – but for the year that is in it, scanning early will identify cows not in-calf which can be sold off to reduce the demand on the farm.

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