With plenty of rainy days in recent times, some farmers are concerned about getting much needed lime spread. The best advice is to spread when ground conditions allow and the fact there is no spreading deadline means lime can be spread any time right up into October.
The real benefit to spreading lime is to release nutrients that are locked up in the soil. Spreading lime helps create the correct pH in the soil for organic nutrients be broken down and be made available to the grass plant.
The top farmers are aiming to grow 15t of grass dry matter per hectare as this allows them carry a good stocking rate and provide plenty of winter feed. It takes approximately 30kg of nitrogen to grow 1t of grass, so 15 tonnes takes about 450kg of nitrogen. The maximum spreading rate for nitrogen allowed in Ireland is 250kg/ha, so that means the balance (200kg) needs to come from the soil reserves. That is where lime plays a part in releasing these nutrients as it creates the right pH to allow the nutrients be released to the grass plant.
For more on this and how clover can play a part watch this special Farm Tech Talk clip with John O’Loughlin from Grassland Agro and Aidan Brennan of the Irish Farmers Journal.