Dairy farmers currently use 7.5 t DM/ha (NFS) during a 210 day grazing season on a milking platform stocked at 1.8 livestock units (LU)/ha. To calculate the tonnage of grass utilised on your farm last year, complete the following calculator:
- Dry Matter Consumption Calculator (Excel Format)
Additional reading about grass nutrition content is available at:
As farmers aim to produce more milk from the grazing platform in the future, pasture growth will be the first factor that limits productivity. Most farms have the capacity to grow more grass and every effort should be made to adopt grazing management practices that ensure high annual grass DM production. Investing in soil fertility improvement and increasing sward perennial ryegrass content will yield financial rewards in the coming years.
Only seven per cent of the land area on specialist dairy farms in Ireland is reseeded annually. Recent research has demonstrated that increasing the proportion of the farm reseeded increases total and seasonal DM production. When accompanied by an increased stocking rate, it led to increased herbage utilisation and has positive effect on profitability. The greatest gain in yield is achieved when a new sward replaces a less productive grass sward. Further information on reseeding is available in following publications:
A list of recommended varieties of grass and clover is presented in the following publication:
- Grass Clover Recommended List Varieties Ireland (PDF, 1MB)
- A Guide to Management of White Clover in Grassland (PDF, 1.5MB)
In recent years, soil fertility has not received adequate attention on grassland farms. A summary of the latest trends in soil pH, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) levels from soil sample analysis for all farm types is available in Soil-Fertility-Atlas (PDF, 11MB) booklet.
The Teagasc Dairy Manual; Chapter 20 has further Information about soil fertility and nutrient management:
- SoilFertility (PDF)
Fertiliser costs have increased: yet high grass growth rates can be achieved profitably with proper soil nutrient management. Soil pH affects the availability and uptake of both major and trace elements by grass. The ideal pH for grass is 6.3; this level allows maximum grass growth, nitrogen (N) release and availability. Liming increases the soil pH and stimulates the release of N from soil organic matter. It may also increase N supply through increased growth of white clover. Applying lime to increase the soil pH will increase nutrient uptake and DM yield and improve the long-term persistency of perennial ryegrass and clover in the sward.
Liming Grassland Soils
Liming of grassland should be done at least every 5 years. For reseeding pastures, best results are achieved by spreading lime at the time of reseeding, when the lime can be well worked into the soil. More about the Liming grassland soils, soil and soil fertility section.
Further and more detailed information is available at Teagasc Soil Analysis website:
Different Fertiliser recommendations for pasture and silage crop
- FertilisingGrassSilage (PDF)
Further information on fertiliser types N, P and K can be accessed on the Soil section.
Land Drainage - A farmer's practical guide to land drainage in Ireland