‘If you don’t have Nitrogen in your yard ring your merchant’

Farmers have been advised to spread Nitrogen fertiliser in early spring as it has been proven to increase the grass growing capabilities at farm level.

Teagasc’s Mike Egan spoke at the recent Irish Grassland Association dairy conference where he said farmers must spread Nitrogen to ensure adequate grass supplies are available during the first and second rotations.

“There is going to be a huge demand for fertiliser in the next couple of weeks and most farmers are going to want it.

“If it is not on your farm at the moment and you haven’t ordered it, there is going to be a waiting list and there is going to be a backlog,” he said.

He added that spring Nitrogen fertiliser applications are essential to grow grass as it can bring forward grass growth levels by two-to-three weeks.

“It is very difficult to grow grass and manage your farm cover when it is grazed and the fertiliser has not be applied.”

Citing research work, the Teagasc representative said every 1kg of Nitrogen applied in early spring gives a 10kg increase in grass growth.

At current fertiliser prices, Egan said every 10kg of grass grown is worth €1.60 coming from a fertiliser cost of €0.60/kg.

There is a good return for putting out early spring fertiliser and having grass available for the first and particularly into the second rotation.

Slurry is also a huge asset to have on farms, he said, and its six times more responsive in spring then it is any other time of the year.

“The target, whether it is slurry or fertiliser, is 70 units of Nitrogen applied by April 1 and that is to ensure that we have sufficient grass growing for subsequent rotations as well,” he said.

However, farmers must be aware of the prohibited or closed period for spreading chemical fertilisers on their farms, with farms in northern counties having to wait until January 31 before being allowed to spread chemical fertilisers.