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Autumn Nitrogen Advice for Grassland Farmers

The rain over the weekend in most of the drought affected areas of the country has farmers asking about the best approach to the application of nitrogen fertiliser on grassland. It is essential that a balanced approach be taken, which will help to meet forage requirements and avoid losses of nitrogen to water.

Pat Murphy, Head of Environment Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said that there are a number of factors to be considered including:

  • Lack of grass growth during August and the requirement to feed animals during the drought have reduced stocks of winter feed on many farms.
  • On lower stocked farms, there may be sufficient nitrogen (N) in the soil to meet requirements, provided rotation length is extended.
  • Where there is the demand, it is recommended that 15 – 25 kg of N per hectare (ha) (12 - 20 units per acre) be applied immediately on grazing land.
  • Grazing rotation length should be extended to greater than 30 days.  Continue supplementary feeding where grass covers are low to build up covers on the farm.
  • Preference should be given to applying slurry/soiled water, where available, which should be applied immediately to replace artificial N.  The use of low emissions slurry spreading (LESS) technology will facilitate earlier grazing and get the maximum value from the nitrogen in the slurry/soiled water.
  • It is important to remember that the closed period for slurry application begins on 8 October this year (1 week earlier than 2021).
  • Given that we are now in September, growth rates are falling due to reducing day length and care is needed to match nitrogen application with potential uptake of nitrogen by the grass crop.

If you are concerned about winter feed stocks on your farm, contact your Teagasc advisor to prepare a fodder budget for the winter ahead.

The closing date for application of artificial fertiliser is Wednesday 14th September.