The focus on forage production and utilisation is going to be more important than ever this year with the need to get the most from home-produced feed. Fertiliser use will be one of the areas that will be challenged in the drive to cut costs on farm. Fertiliser should be reviewed every growing season but a couple of points to remember when looking at your policy are:
- Well managed soil is the key to efficient fertiliser use
- Account for the nutrients in muck
- Make sure Nitrogen is fully utilised
- If you need the grass – feed it properly!
Inorganic fertiliser prices are running at a discount to this time last year, with Ammonium Nitrate now sitting in the region of £232 a tonne. Reviewing your spring fertiliser plan could help you use fertiliser more cost-effectively and take advantage of the price for this coming spring.
So let’s ask the question “Is bagged N still cost-effective”?
Assuming that there are no other limiting factors (pH, P&Ks, water, grass species), there is a straight line response to applied nitrogen up to 350 kg N/ha (280 units N/acre), with a typical response rate of 15-25 kg of grass DM per kg of applied N. In simple terms, this means for every £1 spent on nitrogen fertiliser you will get between £4 to £6.50 (roughly speaking) worth of grass, up to application rates of 350 kg N/ha.
Importantly, cutting back Nitrogen rates by 50kg/ha will save you £11.60/ha, but the reality is that if the utilisation of Nitrogen is correct you stand to lose £85/ha (5:1 response rate) through lost yield at first cut, up to half a tonne of DM/ha – a black hole of £70.50p. The other way of looking at is can I put a bit more on and get a crop response, driving first cut yield, however it is important to look at this in conjunction with organic manure usage and current use.
If you need the grass you have to feed it
Also, think about clover when considering Spring Nitrogen too!!!
High clover swards offer several benefits, including increased palatability and the ability to fix up to 200kg/ha (160 units/acre) of nitrogen, worth £195/ha (£78/acre). The degree to which the sward achieves this will depend on the fertiliser nitrogen regime and the proportion of clover in the sward.
Clover does not respond well to high soil Nitrate levels, as it can suppress clover in the early season with a noticeable increase in clover towards the end of the season
Is this the year to challenge what you are doing?
Understanding the nutrient status of your farm is imperative when making decisions about fertiliser. Do you need to be using 20.10.10 or could you be looking at changing grade to include Sodium and Sulphur to improve palatability and utilisation? Doing soil testing and a grass audit, combined with a grazing plan, could be a way to increase utilisation and drive that production from forage figures on farm.
Please give us a call to discuss your maize seed requirements. We have a choice of NIAB listed Varieties to suit your farm and budget.
We have earlier order deals available for Biotal and SiloSolve .