Many farms across the country are running tight on fodder currently and will need to build up fodder stocks on their farm over the coming growing season.

Early planning is essential and the following steps will help farmers to assess the situation on their farms and to deliver the nutrients required replenish fodder reserves in 2023.

Have you calculated what fodder is required for your animals until turnout?

  • Many farmers may have a fodder deficit. The sooner action is taken, the better.
  • It will take 17 dairy cows, or 20 suckler cows, to eat one bale of silage per day.
  • Do you have a soil test?

    It is essential that soil tests are done as soon as possible before spring workload increases. To get accurate results, soil sampling needs to be conducted before slurry is applied to fields.

    Do you need lime?

    Getting soils to optimum pH is essential to increasing nutrient efficiency and maintaining productive grasses and clovers in your grassland swards.

    Use the results of s soil test to accurately decide on what nutrient rates are required in each field.

    What plans can you make to ensure fodder reserves are built up?

  • Farmers have only one chance to make first-cut silage and to maximise the silage crop yield and quality.
  • Develop a fertiliser plan for your farm, with particular focus on the silage ground.
  • Using the results of the soil test is essential to accurately decide on what nutrient rates are required in each field.

    Where can you make best use of spring-applied slurry?

  • Silage ground – especially if P and K applications were reduced in 2022.
  • Dry fields with lower P and K levels that will be grazed early.
  • Paddocks that were grazed last in the back end or paddocks that were somewhat poached in the back end would benefit from an application of slurry when they dry up. The P and K in the slurry will help root growth to repair these damaged areas.
  • Have you tested your slurry?

  • Is the N-P-K value you place on slurry correct or are you getting a disappointing result in grass yield?
  • A slurry sample test is relatively cheap. This information will help you to adjust your slurry application rate to deliver an accurate rate of nutrients for the crop.
  • Did you under-supply P and K in 2022?

  • Is it likely that your soil fertility has changed since 2022 based on the fertiliser P and K inputs that were supplied?
  • Increasing P and K levels in the soil will increase the efficiency of N and thus have a positive environmental impact.
  • Adequate P and K levels will increase drought resistance and the lifetime ryegrass and clover in your sward.