As we try to improve sustainability on Tullamore Farm, we are trying to reduce costs and reduce the use of inputs. Nitrogen is one input which we are trying to cut significantly.
Use has been cut back across the farm and cut back more significantly on high-clover paddocks where the last application was in May, while multispecies swards and red clover have also been planted.
The multispecies sward was planted in Cloona and while clover is high there, the farm can suffer from drought so the different rooting depths of the multispecies sward may help to combat this if it is an issue.
The red clover has been planted near the farmyard and while it will reduce nitrogen use, its silage should also help to reduce concentrate use and costs.
Both crops were planted under the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Multispecies Sward Measure and the Red Clover Silage Measure.
The multispecies sward was planted on soil with P and K indices of 4, while the red clover ground has a P index of 4 and a K index of 2. Soil pH is at 7.0 and 7.8 in the different fields.
As we were concerned about weeds with a lack of control options, both fields were ploughed. As glyphosate has increased in price, the grass was grazed and ploughed immediately after to cut out some costs.
The land was previously in tillage and we know that soil carbon levels are relatively low in the soil from testing, so ploughing was chosen as the best option.
The crop was planted with a one-pass and rolled. The seed rate under the scheme was followed, which was one 12kg bag/acre.
Both crops received 100kg of 10-10-20 per acre to start them off and K will be topped up on the red clover paddock in time. This was applied approximately two weeks after sowing ahead of rain to ensure it was washed into the crop.
The red clover is now due a post-emergence spray as weeds like speedwell and lamb’s quarter are visible. A clover-safe spray will be used. However, the multispecies sward cannot be sprayed for weeds.
When choosing seed, we ensured there were good perennial ryegrass varieties in both mixes. This is essential as when the plantain and the chicory or the red clover fade out of the sward, you want to be left with a good perennial ryegrass and white clover sward. We will keep you up to date on the sward’s progress. Both were planted in mid- to late May.