Over 14t dm/ha grown on Glanbia monitor farms
As we start 2017, we look on 2016 which will be remembered weather-wise for the bad Spring. On average grass growth was 14 tonnes per hectare (ha) over the 11 monitor farms. Most of the farms were on par with 2015.
Soil fertility was a big issue on all farms, with 80% of soil samples lacking one of the major minerals; lime, phosphorus or potassium. For the past two years, these farmers have implemented a fertilizer plan to rectify this. Long term, the upgrading of the soil fertility status and better grassland management will help to increase grass growth.
20% of land across the programme has been reseeded in the last two years. Most of the farms are concentrating on soil fertility first. In Meath, Peter Mongey got a big increase this year. Part of this came from a section of land that was at index 1 for all nutrients with a pH of less than 5.5. This section of land received 4 bags of 18-6-12 per acre each year and has also received over 4 tonnes of lime per acre. Another section of reasonable soil fertility was reseeded. On average these farms were measured 35 times in 2016.
Grass growth up to 10 April 2016 was half that of 2015. On average only 0.6 tonne of grass dry matter per hectare was grown compared with 1.2 tonnes dm/ha in 2015. But luckily they started 2016 with more grass. Grass growth really got going after 5 May. Drier farms suffered a bit from drought especially in Carlow and Kilkenny. However August and September proved to be a great grass growing period. This helped to build covers for the last rotation. Some farms, especially the lower stocked, ended up with very high pre-grazing covers but luckily the weather was dry to help cleanouts. The recovery on these paddocks was slow and brought down the average closing cover. A lot of good quality bales were made in early May.
Monitor farmers average grass growth over the year 2016
The plan on these farms is to have an opening Average Farm Cover (AFC) of 1000kgdm/ha on 1 February. The target was to have an AFC of 700 by 1 December.
First Published 05 January 2017