Fertiliser: Now is your chance to take the bull by the horns

Determination is key to getting the fertiliser out in these difficult spreading conditions.

The second round is fast approaching and the slow grass growth will mean some farmers will be going into the second round with too low of a cover on their paddocks that were grazed first.

Grass growth rates have been remaining relatively stable over the past few weeks. Currently they are averaging: 17kg DM/ha in Ulster; 15kg DM/ha in Leinster; 14kg DM/ha in Munster; and 14kg DM/ha in Connacht.

Image source: PastureBase

So, it is important to get the fertiliser out and boost grass growth before going into the second round.

Soil temperatures are between 5.9º and 8.8º, and the weather is set to be mild over the coming days – so weather conditions will be excellent for spreading fertiliser.

However, ground conditions may not be. If machinery is tracking the ground, then soil conditions are not suitable for spreading. Drier fields should be selected for spreading and avoid the heavier fields until ground conditions improve.

What to spread

By now, at least one round of nitrogen (N) fertiliser should be spread. If you have not gone with the second round, this week could be your chance to get some of the area covered.

Your aim should be to apply 70 units plus of N by early April. If you have gone with urea or CAN in the first round, you should consider going in with a compound fertiliser next – for any soils in need of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

It is important that soils deficient in P are front loaded now using either a straight P fertiliser or a compound fertiliser high in P in one or two of the first rounds; as P plays a key part in kickstarting spring grass growth.

If a high amount of K build up is required, this is better applied in the autumn because excessive amounts of K can lead to grass tetany during the grazing season.

Additionally, any grazed paddocks deficient in P or K can be targeted with slurry for build up – if the ground conditions allow.

If you haven’t already done so, you should also include sulfur (S) in one of these rounds, as S and N go hand-in-hand for supporting grass growth – 20kg/ha of S (16 units/ac) should be applied.