Fertiliser deadline: The last day permitted for applying chemical nitrogen and phosphorus before the prohibited spreading period is 14 September.

In general, the quicker fertiliser is applied, the greater the response will be.

It is important to capitalise on this growth to build sufficient autumn covers.

The target at the start of September should be to have 20 days grass ahead of stock, rising to 30 days by the end of the month.

The latter figure will be influenced by demand from lambs reducing as higher numbers are drafted, but it will also increase as demand for grass at breeding increases.

Some producers may be reluctant to apply fertiliser given the increase in cost, but for farmers with significant numbers of lambs still on hand, boosting grass growth rates now is also important to reduce your exposure to rising concentrate costs.

With fertiliser costs increasing, there should also be a greater focus on promoting the efficiency of chemical fertiliser. This can be achieved through ensuring the soil pH is at the optimum level. Lime will provide a seven-fold return on your investment through a combination of making soil nutrients more available and increasing the efficiency of applied nutrients. Increasing soil pH to the optimum level can underpin an increase in grass growth of 1t-1.5t DM/ha.

The general recommendation is to apply 2t-2.5t ground limestone per acre and to top-up or repeat the application three years later (ground limestone is available over three years). Granulated lime products offer convenience where small volumes are being applied or small areas are concerned, but must be applied on an annual basis. Targeting 20% of lands on an annual basis is a good benchmark to balance costs while keeping soil fertility at optimum levels.

There is no prohibited application period with potassium and the latter half of the year is the optimum timeframe to address a soil potassium deficiency. Farmyard manure (FYM) should also be applied to soils that need it most. The final date to apply FYM is 30 October and FYM cannot be field stored over the winter.

Strategic grazing: While the focus in most flocks is on building autumn grass supplies, attention also needs to be placed on grassland management for next spring. Swards should be grazed in the coming weeks in a manner that will allow the final grazing to take place and provide a rest period of 100-120 days to when it will be required for grazing next spring. Remember, for a March lambing flock, 20% of ground should be closed by late October, 40% by mid-November, 60% by late November and 80% by mid-December.

Consideration should be given to optimising shelter post-lambing, while also targeting fields that will respond best to early nitrogen and achieve the best growth rates.

Teagasc ram sale: The Teagasc sheep unit in Mellows Campus Athenry is selling 30 rams that are surplus to research project requirements on Friday 10 September in Athenry mart at 7pm. The rams possess high €uro-star figures and are a mixture of breeds, including mainly Suffolk, Texel and Belclare, along with a couple of Charollais rams. The Suffolk and Texel rams will also include New Zealand genetics, which have been produced through the INZAC flock trial. Further information can be obtained from farm manager Noel Claffey on 087-394 8721.