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Fertiliser Guidelines for 2nd Cut Silage


Second cut silage is planned on many farms to replenish silage reserves for the coming winter. This crop tends to be lower yielding compared to first cut silage. Mark Plunkett, Teagasc Soil & Plant Nutrition and John Conroy, Teagasc Westport outline fertiliser guidelines for making 2nd cut silage

Second cut silage is planned on many farms to replenish silage reserves for the coming winter. This crop tends to be lower yielding compared to first cut silage. Where 1st cut has been cut it is important to ensure that 2nd cut crops are fertilised adequately to ensure a good yield of grass at harvest time.

'LESS' Benefits

Cattle slurry may not have been applied to 1st cut silage crops due to poor soil and weather conditions this spring. Aim to apply cattle slurry after 1st cut silage to replenish soil P and K’s removed and empty slurry tanks before the winter period. Where a 2nd cut of silage is planned consult with table 1 in Fertilising 2nd Cut Grass Silage advice, to see what level of N cattle slurry can supply depending on application techniques.

  • Low emission slurry spreading (LESS) increases the recovery of N by 3 units / 1,000 gals and reduces N losses as ammonia.
  • LESS delivers slurry nutrients more precisely across the spread width giving a more targeted nutrient placement.
  • Maximise cattle slurry application at this time of the year so that slurry tanks are emptied before next winter.

Fertilise 2nd cut grass silage based on crop yield potential. Table 2 in Fertilising 2nd Cut Grass Silage advice shows the fertiliser requirements based on a grass dry matter yield of 2 to 4t DM /ha (4 to 8t fresh grass/ac). Suggested fertiliser programmes are shown with and without cattle slurry at various rates depending on grass yield.

Read Mark Plunkett's Fertilising 2nd Cut Grass Silage advice in full here (PDF)

In this video clip John Conroy, Teagasc Westport, advises on fertilising 2nd cut silage  

Don’t Forget Sulphur (S)
For 2nd cut grass silage crops apply 8 to 15kg S/ha (8 to 12 units/ac) per cut.

Teagasc Specialists and Advisors are regular contributors of articles to Teagasc Daily. You can contact any of our Teagasc offices using this link Teagasc Advisory Regions here  

Find out more about Soil & Soil Fertility here

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