With many producers seeing forage yields that were 50% higher than 2018, the removal of key nutrients from soil resources will be considerable this year, according to CF Fertilisers’ George Fisher. So replenishing those levels will be vital.
Phosphorus, potassium and sulphur may have been significantly depleted in recent months.
“And soil testing and the development of appropriate fertiliser management strategies are now needed to ensure levels are restored effectively,” he says.
“Some producers saw freshweight yields of as much as 75 tonnes per hectare in two cuts, at 20% dry matter and crude proteins of between 13% and 15%.
“Grass silage energy levels are also good at around 11.5 MJ/kg/DM, with good palatability.”
Dr Fisher says that the only way producers can know the precise amounts of nutrients to apply is to carry out regular soil testing.
“Producers with intensive grassland systems must test each field – for P, K, Mg and pH – at least every three years.
“But there is a strong case for testing more soils this year, particularly on fields that were borderline on the targets of pH 6.5, and indexes of 2 and 2- for P and K respectively.”
He adds that sulphur is also likely to have been removed in significant quantities this year.
“Sulphur is a major component of the protein-forming amino acids and is essential when higher amounts of nitrogen are applied.”
The simplest way to address the nutrient shortfall, and keep all essential elements in balance and ensure they are delivered in the best way possible to growing swards is to use NKS and NPKS true granular compounds.
“Such compounds, alongside slurries and manures, are the ideal way to restore nutrient levels in high production systems or in years where off-take of grass has been substantial,” says the company’s Mark Garret.
“As well as making sure nutrients are delivered accurately due to their compound nature, British-made true granular products are also based on ammonium nitrate. This is proven to be the most effective source of nitrogen for grassland production systems.”