During last week’s sheep conference, Michael Gottstein, head of Sheep Knowledge Transfer at Teagasc, spoke about the issue of skyrocketing fertiliser prices and options farmers had other than buying these expensive grass growers.

Michael listed some options farmers could do now and over the coming weeks in light of the soaring fertilisers costs, which have priced many farmers out.

Some of the options included carrying out a soil test; correcting soil pH in order to release nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K); placing a greater focus on grassland management; and moving on unproductive stock from the farm.

Further on in Michael’s presentation, he looked at other fertilisers that farmers could either make use of, or make better use of in the coming weeks and months.

These included: Lime; slurry; farmyard manure (FYM); pig slurry or other organic material; and clover.

Speaking about other fertilisers farmers could make use of, Michael said: “We can make better use of other fertilisers on farms.

“Anyone who hasn’t recently soil tested should really be doing so now. So if your soil is lacking in lime, which we know many soils are, get that soil pH corrected, as that will help to release a lot of N, P and K that has been locked up in the soil.

“Spreading slurry early, where possible, using low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment will help in order to get the best results and drive growth.

“While for those that have FYM, that would be best used post-harvest to replace P and K offtakes from silage production.

“Pig slurry and other organic materials are also an option for some. It’s important however, to do up your figures before going down this route.

“We have seen cases before where by the time farmers would have the slurry bought, drawn back to the farm and spread, it was working out dearer than if you were to buy chemical fertiliser – so just be careful with that.

“The last thing would be clover. We are quite good at including clover when we are reseeding but we need to ask ourselves; ‘is it being managed correctly to get the most out of that free N it possesses?

“So, encourage clover in reseeded ground or ground fields that have a high clover content by holding off on the spreading of N in these fields, as there can be significant saving to be made here from the middle of April onwards by doing this,” he concluded.