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Climate Actions for November

Review your parasite control plan for liver fluke going into the housing period

The performance related losses and economic losses associated with stomach worms and liver fluke in cattle are well recognised.  But aside from illthirft, greenhouse gas emissions are higher for animals challenged by worms and fluke.  The visible signs of worm and fluke infestation are just the tip of the iceberg.  With subclinical worm and fluke infections having a severe impact on performance and profitability. 

Appropriate use of anthelmintics is a key consideration in sustainable control of parasites. But drugs must be used carefully in order to ensure their efficacy, now and into the future. Check out the AHI leaflet on parasite control at housing.


Ordering your protected urea

Why use protected urea?

  1. Protected urea consistently and reliably produces top yields under Spring and summer grazing conditions.
  2. Protected urea has lower nitrous oxide emissions compated to CAN and lower ammonia compared to urea.
  3. The price of protected urea is generally 8-10% lower than CAN on a cost per unit of nitrogen basis. Given the high price of fertilisers right now, its important to do the calculation (cost per kg of N) and make an informed decision on selecting fertilisers for 2022.

Closing up message?

Having Enough Spring Grass

Writing this article, I didn’t get it 100% correct the first time around. I read it and re-read it and made great use of the ‘undo’ button until I was satisfied! However once grass has been grazed, in cannot be un-grazed! There is no ‘undo’ button. At this time of year, grass growth has slowed greatly so the chance of it growing back quick is highly unlikely. There is a lesson in this for closing your farm as much of the grass available in spring grows during October and early November.

The objective of autumn grazing management is to extend the grazing season in the autumn but more importantly in the spring. You earn 1.5 times more from a days grazing in the spring than autumn (about €100 extra for 100 cows). There needs to be a plentiful supply of grass available for this to happen. The best way to ensure this is by walking the farm to ensure average farm cover (AFC) is on track to reach the closing AFC targets (see Table 1). For drier farms, early calving date and high calving rate these targets could be increased slightly as demand for grass will be greater.

Table.1 Closing AFC Targets for December 1st based on stocking rate.

Stocking RateAverage Farm Covers (AFC)Covers on Strongest Paddocks
2.5 LU/ha 600 1200-1300 kg DM/ha
3.0 LU/ha 650-700 1400-1500 kg DM/ha
3.5 LU/ha 700-750 1600-1700 kg DM/ha

So do not be tempted to re-graze or continuing to graze paddocks unless you are well ahead of target.

If getting better results from grass is your goal for next year. Register with PastureBase Ireland to create your account. PastureBase now has a farm mapping tool which makes it very easy for all farmers to map their own farm. This is a great starting point for you in 2022!

Test your silage and match concentrate feeding rate to the quality of the silage

Taking a representative silage sample

  • Poor sampling technique is one of the main causes of unreliable silage analysis results.
  • Wait 5-6 weeks after ensiling to take the samples.
  • Ideally use a long core sampler to sample 3-5 points from well spaced points on or between diagonals on the pit surface as per diagram. Core to within 0.5m of the pit floor.
  • Alternatively sample an open pit by taking 9 grab samples in a ‘W’ pattern across the pit face. Where high performance diets are being fed (e.g. finishing cattle, fresh milking cows) it is advisable to repeat sample at 4- week intervals if using this method.
  • Discard the top 100mm of each core before mixing into a composite sample.The final sample should weigh approximately 500g.
  • Exclude air, seal well and post immediately. Avoid posting samples late in the week.

A standard silage sample from 500-tonne pit represents about 0.0001% of fresh material available– ensure that a standard procedure is followed to generate representative samples.

For further details on interpreting your silage analysis, read page 26 https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2016/Teagasc-Quality-Grass-Silage-Guide.pdf

Soil sample your farm.  Continue to spread lime, where conditions allow

Soil Sampling

The results of a soil analysis are only as good as the sample on which it is based. To give reliable advice, a soil sample must be representative of the area sampled and be taken to a uniform depth (10cm).

The principle of soil analysis is to determine the average nutrient status of an area and to give a measure of the available nutrients in the soil. A sample normally consists of 0.25 – 0.5 kg of soil and this is taken to represent the entire sampling area or field.

  1. To take a soil sample it is essential to have a suitable soil corer.
  2. Ensure soil cores are taken to the correct sampling depth of 100 mm (4”).
  3. Take a soil sample every 2 to 4 ha. (5-10 acres).
  4. Take separate samples from areas that are different in soil type, previous cropping history, slope, drainage or persistent poor yields.
  5. Avoid any unusual spots such as old fences, ditches, drinking troughs, dung or urine patches or where fertiliser / manures or lime has been heaped or spilled in the past.
  6. Do not sample a field until 3 to 6 months after the last application of P and K and 2 years where lime was applied.
  7. Take a minimum of 20 soil cores, mix them together, and take a representative sub-sample for analysis, making sure the soil sample box is full.
  8. Take a representative soil sample by walking in a W shaped pattern across the sampling area.
  9. Sample fields at the same time of the year to aid comparisons of soil sample results and avoid sampling under extremes of soil conditions e.g. waterlogged or very dry soils.
  10. Place the soil sample in a soil box to avoid contamination and write the field number and advisor code on the soil box with a black permanent marker.

Soil Sampling Pattern


Now is the ideal time to apply lime to correct soil pH on mineral soils.  Lime will bring many benefits from increasing the availability of soil nutrients (N, P, K & S) to improving soil structure (aeration & drainage).  Soils maintained at a soil pH 6.3 to 6.5 will release up to 70kg N/ha/year from soil organic N reserves.  This will help reduce chemical fertiliser nitrogen (N) bills on farms by approximately €70/ha/year.  Lime will increase the availability of soil phosphorus (P) and is the first step to improving / building soil P levels cost effectively.  Maintaining the optimum soil pH will in addition increase the response to applied N, P & K in either organic manures such as cattle slurry / FYM and N, or bag fertilisers such as 10-10-20 / 18-6-12 etc…. 

Over the coming days / weeks check soil test results and apply lime to fields based on lime recommendations.  Target fields with the lowest soil pH first and apply lime where the opportunity presents for example after grazing paddocks, 2nd / 3rd cut grass silage or at reseeding time.  Soils maintained at the optimum soil pH 6.3 will grow approximately 10 to 15% extra grass during the growing season.  Ground limestone is the cheapest and most cost effective tool to control soil acidity in the long term.  Apply a maximum of 7.5t/ha (3t/ac) ground limestone in a single application.      

Have you checked the carbon footprint for your farm?