Fertiliser applications

Higher than normal growth rates in recent weeks mean there is a greater response than usual to applied chemical fertiliser. This is likely to persist given higher than normal soil temperatures.

Reported progress on building autumn grass supplies is highly variable, and every farmer should weigh up their own situation when making decisions on applying a final application of fertiliser.

The target in early September is to have at least 20 days grazing ahead of the flock, rising to at least 30 days at the start of October. This figure is essentially the level of grass available and the number of days grazing that would be provided were growth to cease.

Some farmers operating at a higher stocking rate and with a drafting rate which is running behind target (70% by mid-September) have faced some challenges in building covers, while on lowly stocked and more marginal land-type farms the greatest challenge has been getting field work completed to boost grass reserves.

For farms struggling to build covers, there will be merit in strategically applying 20 to 25 units of nitrogen.

This does not have to be across the entire farm, and a better response in some situations may be applying a higher allocation to reseeded or young swards that will generate the greatest response and a lower allocation of 10 to 15 units on swards with lower production potential.

If purchasing fertiliser at present, then you must ensure that you have registered as a professional user on the National Fertiliser Database via agfood.ie.

The deadline to register is 15 October, and closing stocks of fertiliser must be recorded by this date. Registration on the database is also required to purchase lime.

Reports suggest there are still significant quantities of slurry to apply on many farms, and this nutrient resource should be used strategically to boost phosphorus and potassium reserves, especially on swards where there has been a significant take off with silage or hay harvested.

Where planning to take advantage of the improvement in ground conditions to apply slurry and lime, then remember slurry should be applied in advance of applying lime.

Water availability

The upturn in weather has been a very welcome feature of the last week. There is a forecast for higher than normal temperatures on Thursday and Friday.

Keeping this in mind and being cognisant of the dry matter content in grass gradually increasing, it is important to ensure that lambs receiving concentrate supplementation have access to a sufficient supply of clean, fresh water.

Seasoning of hay/straw

Reports indicate there has been some hay made this week, while tillage farmers are thankfully in a position to salvage grain and straw.

Where there is any doubt as to the moisture content of bales then storing bales in the passageways of sheds etc for a period before stacking tightly will allow bales time to season and reduce the risk of heating.

Quarantine procedure

There have been some reports of disease outbreaks such as orf, sheep scab etc in flocks where sheep have joined.

It has not been the fault of purchased sheep in many cases, with these animals contracting disease. It does however reinforce the importance of having at least a 28-day quarantine period which will greatly reduce the risk of disease establishing and spreading.