Making bales? Remember, what comes off must go back…

The high growth rates over the past few weeks have meant that farmers across the country are ‘flat out’ cutting surplus paddocks for bales.

With everyone’s heads in silage mode, often times replacing those nutrients which have been removed from the paddock – through the silage – is forgotten about or put on the long finger.

This is usually only brought to the surface – in the future – when soil tests are carried out. The paddocks on the milking platform which tend to be cut for bales are often significantly lower in potassium (K), than those which are not.

To avoid this, it is important that these paddocks are fertilised adequately post-cutting to ensure that soil indexes are maintained.

The after grass on these paddocks is also very valuable in terms of the milk production potential that is capable from this high-quality grass; so fertilising them adequately is a must.

According to Teagasc, a typical bale weighing 800kg fresh (200kg dry matter (DM)) contains 10 units of nitrogen (N), 1.6 units of phosphorus (P) and 10 units of K.

With this in mind, depending on the amount of bales/ac that are harvested, the amount of N, P and K removed can be substantial.

For instance, four-to-five bales/ac will remove six-to-eight units of P/ac and 40-50 units of K/ac.

Source: Teagasc

Teagasc recommends targeting slurry to these paddocks after cutting to replace these nutrients taken off.

Also Read: Grass advice: Making use of a very valuable resource

If no slurry is available a compound fertiliser can be used. In the case of N, this is not usually an issue as it is applied before and after cutting.

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