Farm Action 9th August 2010

by PJ Phelan Agricultural Advisor

Farm incomes

This year has been a relatively good year so far for dairying, tillage and sheep. Dairy farmers and indeed some tillage farmers are now looking to expand. Farmers who are not happy with their current level of performance might consider forming a partnership on some or part of their lands. If interested contact P. J. Phelan for further information.

Grassland Management.

The response of grass to Nitrogen reduces from now on. Therefore if you intend to apply more nitrogen now is the time to do so. There is no advantage in waiting until later this month or for early September.

Check your own fertiliser plan to see how much Nitrogen you have used so far this year relative to what you are allowed to use. Assuming that you have not used your full allocation you should now apply fertiliser as per the table below. Nitrogen applied early in August will give 10 – 15% more grass than Nitrogen applied in late August.

Table 1: Recommended Rates of N for Different Stocking Rates

Stocking Rate/Year August September Total for Year
Kg/ha Organic N Cows/ha (units/Acre) (Units/Acre) Kg/ha Units/Acre
155 –  170 1.82 – 2.0 14 164 133
170 –  180 2.00 – 2.12 20 192 155
180 –  190 2.12 – 2.24 28 216 175
190 –  200 2.24 – 2.35 26 20 250 202
200 –  210 2.35 – 2.47 28 28 275 223
211 –  250 2.47 – 2.94 25 18 242 196

Sulphur will still improve grass yield in August/Sept on light soils, deficient in sulphur by 3-50%.

      • CAN +S costs €5-10 per ton extra and is well worth it.

The response of grass to nitrogen application is much better in August( 12kgsDM) than in September(8kgsDM of grass per kg N applied),

Soil fertility is critical for the establishment of grassland. It is generally advisable to apply at least 1t lime per ac if reseeding is done without ploughing as surface acidity is widespread in grassland. In all cases it is advisable to have soil analysed so as to determine lime Phosphate and Potash requirements. Prior to the Nitrate regulations high phosphate applications were recommended for reseeds. However you must now abide by the regulated limits

Table 2 Nutrient applications at establishment (units/ac) of grass/white clover reseed.

Soil Index N P K
1 48 31 90
2 40 23 70
3 32 15 40
4 32 0 30

Note if you farm is stocked at less than 130kg/ha N the Phosphorus applications must be reduced by 4 units per acre. Derogation farms may apply up to 4 or 8 units addition P depending on stocking rate.

Land to be reseeded should be sprayed with Glyphosate at 6 -7 days before cultivation so as to kill off old grasses and weeds. Land should then be either ploughed and tilled or simply cultivated with a disc or power harrow. It can be difficult to manage trash where ploughing is omitted. After cultivation land should be rolled so as to ensure a good firm seedbed when sowing. Sowing should be to a depth of 1cm and land rolled again after sowing.

Information on suitable grass and clover varieties is available on the Department of Agriculture website or from you agricultural advisor/consultant.


Prospects for grain prices are good this year – if you are selling but are of concern if you are going to be buying grain to feed. Now is the time to consider a partnership for the future so as to remove this risk – you supply land, the tillage farmer supplies the work, you split input costs and you share the grain and the straw.

The winter barley harvest is now completed with most crops yielding 2.5 – 3.5t/ac. Winter Oats is also yielding well at around 3.2 t/ac. Demand for straw is high and round bales are generally making €16/bale.

PJ Phelan is an Agricultural Advisor. Phone 0504-32204 or 086-8046455

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