Grass growth will surge towards its annual peak over the next fortnight. Ground conditions should also improve, with drier, warm weather forecast.

As grass growth pushes ahead of livestock demand, sward covers will build and surplus grass should develop.

A question many farmers will ask is whether they should hold off from spreading fertiliser on grazing ground during peak growth or go ahead as normal.

The advice varies depending on the farm.

Fodder deficit

On farms with low to medium grazing covers, apply fertiliser now and maximise grass yields over the next month.

Surplus grazing will come later in the month. This may tie in with the dates for harvesting first-cut silage, making it more practical to take out surplus grass for winter forage.

If spreading 27 units/acre of CAN on grazing ground this week, nitrogen will be used up inside a fortnight and safe to ensile by the end of May.

Fodder surplus

On farms that are already carrying heavy grazing covers, the advice would be to hold off applying fertiliser until after surplus grass is taken out for silage.

There is little merit in applying nitrogen to heavy swards that are too strong for grazing. Close these paddocks and cut at the first opportunity.

Spread fertiliser to the sward after cutting, using a product with P, K and some sulphur to replace nutrient offtake.

There will be a far greater growth response from fertiliser applied to the fresh aftermath, ensuring paddocks are back in the next grazing rotation.