Ground conditions have been excellent so far this autumn, giving us a great opportunity to get some extra fieldwork done.
We have a good start made on the hedgecutting and might even get it finished by the end of the month.
We have some lime to get out before the end of the year, so hopefully conditions will hold well enough to get this done without much damage over the next few weeks.
We will try to follow the cows through the last rotation with lime on to bare ground.
The plan is to oversow most paddocks with extra clover
We need to bring up the pH in some paddocks to make them a bit more clover friendly for oversowing over the next few years. Most are hovering slightly above the 6.0 mark, so are fine for grass but for clover to stick, they need a small lift.
The plan is to oversow most paddocks with extra clover over the next few years as we reduce chemical fertiliser inputs, in line with nitrates regulations. We may also try some mixed-species swards in a few paddocks to dip our toe in the water.
We tried a few paddocks with oversown clover this spring and got a good enough strike in places, especially considering the dry year.
Rhere are some horror stories out there
We haven’t seen a huge amount of bloat issues with clover so far, so hopefully the cows have developed some tolerance to it over the last few years.
We will keep it monitored and check cows between milkings in high-risk paddocks. There are some horror stories out there as usual at this time of year, so there’s no room for complacency.
Grass covers have recovered well on most of the farm now after the recent rain, but some of the drier paddocks are still struggling to pull themselves out of a drought. We blanket spread the entire farm before the deadline with 27 units of nitrogen to give us every chance of producing one more grazing before the end of the season.
There should be plenty of growth to take up a reasonable slurry application right through September
We happen to have our slurry out this year before the proposed new deadline of the 15 September. This deadline looks very early, looking at ground conditions and soil temperatures at the moment.
Every year is different, but it’s difficult to see how spreading slurry on an actively growing grass sward up to early October would cause excessive nitrate loss. There should be plenty of growth to take up a reasonable slurry application right through September, at the very least.
Another proposal that, in my opinion, makes very little sense is the proposal to cover outdoor slurry stores. We still have no specification as to what constitutes a “cover” or what exactly the cover is going to achieve, other than to add cost to farmers.
Perhaps we can come up with a low-cost cover option
Maybe more research should be directed towards developing additives to reduce the ammonia emissions from slurry, both during storage and when spreading.
Perhaps we can come up with a low-cost cover option that might achieve the desired results, but other than that, it’s difficult to see the point of this proposed regulation.
It will be interesting to see where the debate on the banding of cows and their nitrate excretion goes.
Teagasc has compiled these figures based on scientific research, so it looks like some version of this will be here to stay with us.
Some interesting submissions were made on this issue though, so the follow-up will be noteworthy.
The worry is that the banding of slurry production and associated storage requirements will follow similar lines over the next few years. Hopefully, some sort of a lead-in time will be facilitated to allow farmers to get their house in order in a timely fashion.