Grazing Management and Soil Health on the Walsh Farm
John and Brendan Walsh & family were the 2021 Clover & Sustainability winners in the Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition. They farm in Ballylooby, Co. Tipperary.
The Walsh family, along with the Teagasc Grass10 team and local Teagasc Advisors, hosted a farm walk on Tuesday, 4th October to share some of their experience and knowledge when it comes to farming sustainably.
Brendan Walsh has been measuring grass since 2014 on his farm, with 54 walks per year recorded over the past five years, and sees great benefit in measuring grass. He measures the grass every five days during the summer. The main advantage is that it allows Brendan to plan ahead and decide which paddocks to graze in a very well informed way. It also helps to identify poorer performing paddocks and this means those can be targeted for reseeding. The pre grazing yield on the farm is 1,518 kgDM/ha and average grown is 12,926 kgDM/ha.
Grazing management is a big focus on the farm.
Opening AFC: 1000 kg/ha
Turnout date: End January
6 week calving rate (90%)
Median calving date: Feb 9th
Early Fertiliser N in February/March
23+23+ slurry by early April
Spring rotation plan: 40% grazed by March 1st
Start 2nd rotation (2nd April)
AFC 600 kg/ha
2nd rotation: 20 – 23 days
Then 18 day rotation
Non clover paddocks: 0.7 units N/ac/day
Graze to 4 cm
Make use of clover
Cover/LU: 160 kg/LU
Pre grazing: 1300 kg/ha
Starts building early August
AFC 1100+ kgDM/ha: October 1st
Fertiliser N: 29 units N/ac August and ear;y September
Zero N on clover swards
Rotation 40 days: Octoer 1st
Most of farm closed in October
Grass budget in PastureBase Ireland
AFC December 1st: 650 kgDM/ha
Clover sward on the Walsh farm.
Soil health is a very important factor in the success of the farm. The Walsh’s sample their soil every year in order to get as much information as possible so that they can make decisions each year to keep the soil in good health. The soil fertility on the farm is excellent with soil above a pH of 6.2, 85% of the farm at or above index 3 for P, and 75% of the farm at or above index 3 for K. This reduces the farms reliance on chemical fertiliser, the Walsh’s have spread 130 kg of nitrogen so far this year and have grown 11 tonnes.
The Walsh family farm has very good quality soil, left. Compaction is seen only around heavy traffic areas areas such as gateways, right.
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