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Grass10 Newsletter 11th October

Grass10 Newsletter 11th October

In this week's Grass10 newsletter, get updates from PastureBase Ireland on predicted grass growth and rainfall. Get information on the grass situation for PastureBase dairy and drystock farmers. Get other advice and updates from the Grass10 team.

PastureBase Ireland - Dairy Figures

  • Average Farm Cover - 884 Kg DM/Ha
  • Cover/LU - 295 Kg DM/Ha
  • Growth - 44 Kg DM/Ha
  • Demand 37 Kg DM/Ha - Stocking rate 3 LU/Ha
  • Pregrazing yield - 1,765 Kg DM/Ha
  • Diet - 13 Kg DM Grass - 3.5 Kg Meal - 1.5 Kg Silage

Predicted Grass Growth

Counties map showing predicted grass growth over the next 7 days from farms involved in Elodie Ruelle’s MoSt grass growth model on 78 farms. 

Growth rates are similar across the country ranging from a low 24 in Sligo to highs of 38 in Louth and Westmeath. 



Predicted rainfall

Counties map showing predicted rainfall in mm for the next 7 days from farms involved in Elodie Ruelle’s MoSt grass growth model - 78 farms. 

Rainfall is predicted to have a high of 29mm in Clare to lows in Cork of 11mm.



Grass Dry Matter %

  • Moorepark 13.2%
  • Athenry 14%

Grass 10 Weekly Tips

All farmers should have begun closing up the farm

All dairy and beef farms should have begun closing-up this week.  Every week delay in closing reduces spring grass supply by 100 Kg DM/ha. Paddock choice during closing is critical (see below). To get good clean outs on paddocks use a strip wire, graze heavier covers on drier days, keep silage out of the diet, and keep meal levels as low as possible. The aim on dry farms is to have 60-70% of the farm closed by 1st November and heavy soils about 80%. So for a 30ha farm this means grazing 20ha (66%) in 25 days, i.e. 0.80ha/day or 5.5ha per week. 

Pick your paddocks to graze first in spring 2023

This week paddocks to close are those that will carry a heavy cover and be grazed in the middle of the spring rotation from early to mid March, (slightly later on heavy soils).The paddocks we want to graze first in the spring should be the easiest ones to get stock out to from the yard, drier, good access, roadways on 2 sides, recently reseeded for quicker growing and the cover should be 700-1100 kg DM/Ha in February. Grazing lighter covers  means they are easier to graze out, and grazing more area to reach 30% grazed by March 1st. Stock are less likely to do damage and these paddocks should recover quickest to start the 2nd rotation on time. Paddocks closed up early in the autumn will be too heavy for freshly calved cows or cattle who need to adjust back to grazing. Ensure the paddocks you want to graze first in the spring are grazed from October 20th until early November. See diagram below.

Applying K this autumn can improve nitrogen efficiency

Recent research from Johnstown Castle confirms that now is the best time to apply extra potassium to build soil K levels. Check soil test results and identify which fields (Index 1 or 2) that require additional K and build soil K fertility to the optimum Index 3. An autumn application of K resulted in highest chemical N efficiency in the following spring compared to spring applied K. In addition, applying K at this time of the year reduces issues with potential grass tetany in grazing animals next spring and reduces luxury K uptake in grass silage swards. Read more below.

Complete an Autumn Grass Budget on PBI
Farm cover has peaked and the forecast is for poorer growing onditions over the next week. Grass growth will be variable with weather conditions, with predictions ranging from 24-39 KgDM/ha/day depending on weather. Complete a grass budget on PBI to make the most of this grass. Why? Because it will help stretch grass for longer. Stretching out grass will increase the amount grown and every day at grass increases profitability of your farm. Target AFC for 1st December range from 600-750 KgDM/ha for most farms with higher stocking rates on drier farms requiring a higher closing cover. The budget will also indicate how much silage will need to be fed before the winter starts, this is crucial to allow farmers to take action if fodder deficits exist.

K Applications in the Autumn - Mark Plunkett

(Continued from above). Each 1 ton grass DM/ha  removes ~25kg K/ha (20 units K /ac). For example two cuts of grass can remove in the region of 200 to 250kg/ha (160 to 200 units/ac) depending on grass yield (8 to 9t DM/ha or 16 to 18 t fresh grass/ac). Now is a good time to work out crop K offtakes especially for intensively cut grass silage fields and ensure sufficient K return to maintain soil fertility levels.

There is no restriction of the application of K fertilisers as we have with both N and P fertilisers. Potassium is supplied by muriate of potash fertiliser (MOP 50% K). Adjust fertiliser K rates for cattle slurry applied for example good quality cattle slurry (6%DM) contains ~29 - 32 units K /1,000 gals. Muriate of potash (MOP 50% K) can be applied at any time of the year and is an effective way to build soil K levels rapidly. Aim to apply recommended K build up rates as shown in table 1 below.

Grass10 Featured Farmer 

Colin Doherty, Co.Limerick

Colin Doherty was the 2021 Overall and Dairy GFOY Winner. He farms alongside his father Bryan just outside Adare in Limerick. When Colin held his farm walk in early Septmber the farm cover was extremely low due to drought. Farm cover last week peaked at 990 KgDM/ha. We caught up with him to see how he is managing his final rotation. 

Read Colin's full grazing update here:

PastureBase Ireland - Drystock Figures

  • Average Farm Cover - 783 Kg DM/Ha
  • Pregrazing yield - 1,722 Kg DM/Ha
  • Growth - 29 Kg DM/Ha
  • Stocking rate - 2.1 LU/Ha
  • Demand - 29Kg DM/Ha
  • Days ahead - 27

The Clover Reporter

Laurence Sexton, Co. Cork

This section will give weekly reports and videos from farmers who have a lot of clover established on their farms.

This week,we return to Dairy farmer Laurence Sexton from Co. Cork who updates us on his autumn nutrient management for his grass - clover swards and a sample of what some of his grass - clover swards have grown year to date.

Location: Kilbrittain, West Cork
Enterprise: Dairy 
Soil Type: Dry – Free Draining
% Farm In Clover: 70% (90ha)
% From Reseeding: 45% (40ha)
% From Oversowing: 55% (50ha)
Clover content 2022: 15.5% on 90ha

Read Laurence's full clover report here

Grassland Farmer of the Year Events

Last week seen the final Grass10 GFOY walk held on Sheep farmer and Drystock finalist Shane Moore's farm outside Athleague in Co. Roscommon. There was great interest and interaction from the attendees with lots of questions. 3 key points from Shane's walk: 

  1. Shane has over 50% of the lambs drafted for slaughter from mainly grass in a mid-season lambing flock.
  2. He is making exceptional use of his paddock system with 10.9 T DM/ha grown to date in 2022 from approx. 100 kg N/ha applied.
  3. Growing more grass is allowing him carry more ewes/ha without any additional inputs.