With the closing date for the application of artificial nitrogen and phosphorous approaching, farmers are taking the opportunity to apply the final application of fertiliser for 2020.
It is essential to make the most of autumn grass to reduce winter feed demand and shorten the winter period as much as possible. In the right conditions, this final fertiliser application will help drive the supply of grass available for autumn grazing.
The most efficient use of fertiliser will be based on the results of a recent soil analysis – which is likely to have been carried out in spring and should be closely referenced.
The objective for any application of fertiliser is to achieve a soil fertility Index of 3, as anything below this indicates low nutrient levels which will directly impact the performance of the subsequent crop. The final application of fertiliser, if applied in accordance with the results from a recent soil analysis, will help to maintain grass quality and growth for the remainder of the season, so it is important that optimum levels are achieved. As there is little or no grass growth in December and January and the growth won’t pick up until soil temperatures allow, what is grown before the ‘dormant’ season is what is important in having a supply ready for spring. Therefore, the final application of fertiliser needs to be applied with that too in mind.
The final date for the application of artificial fertilisers is September 15th, which is set out under the Nitrates Directive.
Autumn grass cover targets
Achieving the correct peak farm cover in mid-September is what will set your farm up for late autumn grazing. This peak will vary from farm to farm depending on stocking rate, soil type and the subsequent autumn weather conditions. On farms with heavy soils it is important to note the risk in building up high covers as ground conditions will be a major limitation to getting good clean grazing in late autumn if weather conditions turn for the worst.
As previously mentioned, referencing your most recent soil analysis will allow for the most efficient use of fertiliser. Where soils have an Index of 4, this indicates high nutrient levels that will support grass swards without any additional fertiliser application. It is strongly advised that in the absence of a recent soil analysis that this should be added to the ‘to-do’ list for autumn 2020.