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John Barry March Update

Consider how to improve water quality on your farm

Consider how to improve water quality on your farm

  • Is a solar pump an option to prevent stock from drinking from watercourses?
  • Watch sloped fields that may allow direct nutrient run off to a watercourse if no buffer zone/vegetation is present
  • Could improving water infrastructure help to improve your grass management too?
Planning for silage 2022

Planning for silage 2022

  • Complete a fodder budget for next winter
  • See how much feed will be left over this winter
  • Calculate how much silage you will need to make to have enough feed for next winter
Take soil samples to save on fertiliser this year

Take soil samples to save on fertiliser this year

  • Cut out chemical P and K on index 4 soils
  • Spread lime where needed for a 7:1 return on investment
  • Identify good fertility fields that may be suitable for oversowing clover

Water Quality

John has a large outblock of land where he cuts silage. He aims to get 2 to 3 grazings per year off of it but was restricted by access to water for stock. This year he decided to invest in a solar water pump which can pump water to troughs from a nearby river.

This will help improve the water quality in the nearby river as stock will not be drinking from it. John has fenced along the field bank so cattle will not be able to go down at all. He is considering ploughing small furrows into any places of bare earth to prevent any direct nutrient run off from his fields to the water course until the vegetation grows back naturally and might throw in some grass seed too to speed up the process.

As there is a steep incline from where the water is being pumped from, John is restricted by how far up the field he can go with the water troughs. However he has changed his plan for the paddock layout and this will allow him to put in 6 new paddocks that he had not got the option to do before which will be about 2ha in size.

The group of 54 yearlings that will be grazing will get about 6 days per paddock in the spring and the spring calving cows (50), 50 calves and 10 in calf heifers will get around 2.5 days per paddock in the autumn. This will help protect grass re-growths and ensure that cattle are grazing good quality grass as they can be moved along quickly. Ideally cattle would spend between 1.5 to 3 days max. per paddock as John has at home, but this will be a serious improvement for grass utilisation on this land going forward.


John completed a fodder budget for planning his silage cuts this year. Based on a 5 month winter and 75 cows, 75 calves, 45 stores and 14 cattle over 2 years of age he will need 1172 tonnes of silage next winter, not allowing for any ration.

He has 225 tonnes of feed left over from last winter which will be a huge help. John aims to cut his silage ground 15.8 ha twice and will be making surplus bales also. He has the option of cutting his silage ground a third time if necessary, or to sell surplus stock before the winter if feed supplies will be an issue.

Soil Fertility

Soil samples were taken on John’s farm this year and a nutrient management plan has been done based on these. Over 60% of the farm has a pH of less than 6.2 and requires almost 200 tonnes of lime over the next 4 years to correct it. John has a load of lime on the farm already and will be spreading it as soon as he can. He is taking care not to spread it on silage ground until his two cuts are complete, and will be spreading slurry and/or unprotected urea 10 days before spreading lime. He will refrain from spreading slurry and/or unprotected urea on limed ground for 3 to 6 months after it’s applied.

The phosphorus levels on the farm are excellent with over 90% of the farm in index 3 or higher. This will result in significant fertiliser savings for John this year as he has a very low phosphorus allowance. Therefore most of his recommended chemical fertiliser for the year is straight nitrogen, ideally in the form of protected urea.

75% of the farm is in index 3 or higher for potassium which again results in significant chemical fertiliser savings for John this year.

John is considering incorporating clover on his farm this year and 8 paddocks are suitable for this as they have a pH of over 6.2 and are index 3 of higher for both phosphorus and potassium.