With the weather set to improve over the coming days, attention will soon turn to fertiliser. What to do depends on what situation the farm is in. Farms or parts of farms can be divided up based on what nutrients it has received so far and what the intention is for the next few months, ie grazing or silage. On grazing ground that got no nitrogen or slurry to date, this will need around 35 to 40 units of nitrogen per acre, as soon as conditions allow. If it got some nitrogen or slurry in early March, then this can be reduced to 30 units/acre. Nitrogen or slurry spread before early March should be discounted at this stage and go with the higher rate of 35 to 40 units/acre. Not all of the farm will be suitable for spreading straight away, but pick the fields that are and work with them. In most cases it will mean spreading fertiliser on some fields ahead of the cows if they are not going to be grazed for a few weeks. Fields that are due to be grazed shortly can be spread after grazing. On silage ground, the advice is that fields that got slurry in spring are more or less covered for P and K and that 80 units of N/acre and 10 units of sulphur/acre will be sufficient. If the slurry was spread in January or February, applying the fertiliser in a high N compound such as 24:2.5:10 or similar would be sufficient, but if the slurry was spread more recently no chemical P and K will be required. Where no slurry was spread and where soil fertility is good, slurry can be spread after the silage is cut. Where soil fertility is not good then chemical P and K will be required to grow the crop of silage. By right, the equivalent of three bags/acre of 0:7:30 should be spread, but be careful with K levels as this could end up back in the silage if the crop is destined to be cut early.


The main breeding season will be kicking off inside the next two weeks. Getting cows back in calf will be a worry. The fear is that the problems of this spring will carry forward into next spring if cows are slow to go back in calf or if there are higher empty rates than normal. Good-quality grass and plenty of it will turn cows inside out, so let that be the first focus – easier said than done on wet farms. Consider taking blood samples to check for mineral status and supplement accordingly, either through bolus, injection or through the feed. Cow body condition score will be the biggest factor. Get any thin cows on once-a-day milking now and try and get silage out of the diet as quickly as possible.


It doesn’t seem like high priority right now, but there is only one chance in a year to get clover established through oversowing and that’s in April and early May. As outlined on pages 34 and 35, the research results are impressive and cannot be ignored. Farmers on the clover journey shouldn’t let this year pass. Identify the fields to be oversown and have the seed ready to go after the next grazing and then manage it accordingly for the rest of the summer.