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John Pringle January Update

Apply lime if required!

Apply lime if required!

  • Take soil samples
  • Really analyse the results
  • Do a fertiliser plan
Vaccinate Cows in time

Vaccinate Cows in time

  • Vaccinate cows 3 to 12 weeks before calving scours and IBR
  • If you used a Levacide product as a housing dose, you now need to use and Ivermectin or white dose to get inhibited larvae
  • Faecal egg sample and check has your housing dose worked
  • Check do you need to treat for lice
Set up for the year ahead

Set up for the year ahead

  • Put in any extra paddocks or fences before calving or lambing starts
  • Map up farm on PastureBase
  • Check on all fences and gates and carry out and repairs and maintenance

Farmer Comment

Cattle are well in and settled now. I wil be starting to calve late next month so I want to get the cows vaccinations done. I vacinate all the cows for rota and corona as I often dont get them to grass for a few weeks. That vaccine has to be given at least three weeks bedofre they start to calve.  I also vaccinate for IBR and find both vaccines have really reduced issues around calving on the farm. 

I got my soil samples back also. I am relatively happy with them. I need to apply lime, but I was expecting that and  I have ordered 100t and will spread it as soon as I can travel.

Lime resized


The phosphorous is always a problem here, the soil type we have here is high in Aluminium and holds onto the P, I plan to feed the grass this year rather than building P levels, so once grass really starts to grow in March I wll go with aroudn 10 units. FOr the first round I will use protected urea if i can get it, if not I will use ordianry Urea.

I did a bit of measuring grass before, but as apart of the prgramme I will have to measure weekly. I want to get the paddocks set up on Paturebase now, so its ready when the stock go out. 

Soil Fertility 

Soil samples results are back from the Department of Agriculture pilot Soil Sampling Programme. As can be seen below only 4.27ha or 8% of the farm is at optimum soil fertility. But like everything you must look into the figures in a little more detail to get a true picture.

Soil sample analysis


As the pH of the soil is so critical to optimum nutrient use efficiency it must be look at first. John is in a fortunate position in that 66% of the farm has an optimum pH, and the rest is all above a pH of 5.5. John is going to apply 2 tonnes of lime per acre to all the land with a Ph <6.2 this spring. The lime is bought, delivered and ready to go.

Teagasc work shows that having the correct pH will -  Increase grass production annually - Release up to 80kg N/ha/year - Unlock soil phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) - Increase the response to freshly applied N, P & K

With the cost of fertiliser this year, you cannot afford to waste any. The factsheet below goes through a few important point on applying lime.   


Phosphorous (P)

The main culprit for knocking the farm out of optimum soil fertility status is phosphorous. As you can see, 93% of the farm is in index 1 or 2. This is an issue that John has been battling for a long number of years. Some of it is down to not applying enough P and some of it is down to soil type. John is stocked at 153kh N/ha, this means that by just grazing he is removing approx. 10 units of P per acre and this must be replaced. If John wants to build his indexes to the optimum index 3 he must apply a further 20 units to index 1 soils and 10 to index 2 soils, a tall order where a tonne of  superphosphate is €750 per tonne.  

For this year, we will concentrate on feeding the crop. John has 40 cows calving in February and 255 ewes lambing in March he needs early grass and a lot of it, phosphorous is key in delivering this early grass. Therefore, john will apply at least 10 units of P per acre in mid-March when grass really starts to grow.

Potassium (K)

As can be seen, the potassium levels on the farm are high, so the plan going forward is to reduce the level of K in a fertiliser and increase the level of P. In 2020, John applied 23-10-0 and this has brought up some soils from index 1 into index 2.

The Fertiliser plan this year:

Apply 15 – 20 units of nitrogen as urea/protected urea in early February. This will require the soil temperatures to be >6oC, the ground to be trafficable, the weather forecast to be dry for a least 3 days and the plan to let out stock within 2 weeks. Fingers crossed this will happen in February as John wants to get his bulling heifers our as soon as possible. Then follow up with 23-10-0 or similar product Mid- March.

Slurry will only be applied after the 14th of January if tanks need to be lowered, the rest will be kept for the silage ground.  

Animal Health 

Cows will be vaccinated later this month for IBR and for Rota and corona. It is important to have these vaccines in time before calving, especially the Rota and Corona as it has to be given 3-12 weeks before calving for adequate immunity to build in the colostrum to protect the calf. For John he has a compact calving, so he does not have to split the cows. If you have a calving season greater than 10 weeks, it is better to vaccinate in two bunches so the last cows are not vaccinated more

Grassland Management

John plans to split some larger fields into smaller ones to allow better management of grass and stock. Looking at it now allow him time to move fences or drinkers before cows start calving or ewe lambing. The permanent fence will make splitting them again while grazing easier

Paturebase has a new mapping system, so once the new paddock are decided they will be added into Pasturebase and a map developed.

There are some fences that need to be repaired and this will be done at the same time