Fertiliser policy is key to multi-cut silage success

17 Sep 2019

Producers planning to adopt a multi-cut approach to grass silage making should be mindful of their fertiliser application policy in order to maximise the benefits.

This was the advice of Germinal GB’s Ben Wixey, speaking at UK Dairy Day, where feedback from producers and reports from the trade pointed to the ever growing popularity of the earlier and more frequent cutting method.

Positive impact

“We’re seeing more and more producers adopting a multi-cut approach and, with crops being cut at optimum maturity as a result, there is evidence from this season’s silage analyses that the practice is having a positive impact on forage quality.

“This is good news for producers, as it will ultimately help to reduce bought-in feed costs, but it is important to manage fertiliser applications appropriately to get the best out of the system.”

Key element

Mr Wixey adds that applying 2.5kgN/ha between cuts should be the aim, with timeliness being a key element.

“With a multi-cut system, the cutting interval should be between 28 and 30 days, which would mean applying no more than 75kgN/ha between cuts,” he says. “And this should, ideally, go on as soon as the last trailer has left the field.

Excessive nitrogen

“Applying too much is likely to result in excessive nitrogen in the crop, which can disrupt the fermentation and lead to butyric silage.

“If too little nitrogen is applied, grass plants can become stressed, which usually means they go to seed prematurely. In this case, the digestibility of the silage will be reduced.

Potential rewards

“There’s no doubting the potential rewards from a multi-cut system, but you must start with a good quality ley and pay attention to the details, including fertiliser applications.”