Heavy rain on Monday followed by a slight reprieve on Tuesday, but more heavy rain on Wednesday, is how the forecast is looking over the next few days.

Many parts of the country experienced typical April weather on Sunday – drying wind, sunshine and plenty of scattered showers – some of which were heavy.

In the main, there was more drying than wetting and it gave farmers a taste of what spring should be like – without incessant rain.

It also showed that in the right conditions land will dry quickly, so that gives some hope that whenever the rain does stop that things can get back to normal quickly.


In the meantime, farmers are knuckling down to another day of heavy rain. For many, it means that cows will be rehoused for the next few days – either full time or part time.

It’s a familiar procedure so it doesn’t require much comment, but the key thing is to keep testing grazing conditions after the rain.

The sooner cows can go back out to grass – for any amount of time – the better in terms of milk production and costs.

If, as expected, the weather does improve later in the week, then there should be opportunities to catch up on work.

Fertilising silage ground and rebuilding silage stocks will be a top priority on almost all farms. Regardless of soil fertility, a heavy crop of first cut silage requires around 80 to 90 units/acre of nitrogen and potash, and about 20 units/acre of phosphorus.

The P and K can be supplied by slurry or bag fertiliser. One of the issues many farmers have is that there is too much grass on the silage ground now for slurry to be spread.

If soil fertility is good, then the P and K required for the crop can be spread after the silage is harvested. In other words, let the soil feed the crop and then replenish the soil.

However, if soil fertility is below optimum then it won’t be able to feed the crop, so fertiliser will be required.


Check with your adviser that the farm has an allowance to buy phosphorus fertiliser. If the farm is stocked greater than 130kg N/ha and soil samples have not been taken, then it is unlikely that the farm will have an allowance, because index four is assumed in the absence of soil samples.

As much area as possible should be closed for first cut silage once it doesn’t compromise grazing area. I think a maximum stocking rate of 3.8 cows/ha on the milking platform for the next two months is a good policy.

That presumes a growth rate of 65kg/day on average over that period, which means that some surplus grass will appear during periods of high growth, but it also means that cows shouldn’t be pinched when growth rates are lower than expected.

Meanwhile, the first of the Irish Farmers Journal Renewable Roadshows takes place Tuesday night at 7.30pm in Silver Springs Clayton Hotel, Cork. If interested in renewables, this is the place to be.