As you all know, grass is perhaps the best resource you have at hand being a cheap and sustainable feed source. To keep grass performing at its optimum you should be applying manure/slurry regularly and applying fertilizer. Fully understanding your fertilizer requirements is essential to get the most cost-effective management, we can help you find this out by testing your soil!
Firstly, you need to consider the pH. If your pH isn’t right, then your grass wont efficiently absorb nutrients. The optimum pH is 6-6.5. If your levels are low, it means your land is too acidic and will have a reduced mineral absorption. To correct this, you can apply limestone to neutralize the acidity. Your pH should be corrected before you think about applying fertilizer as it will not be available.
Nitrogen! The most well-known of all the nutrients in the soil, and quite rightly so! Without enough nitrogen your grass will not grow. It is the primary nutrient for protein and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is especially important as there are the parts of the leaves that gives them their green colour. They are responsible for harvesting the sunlight for energy to produce carbohydrates (sugars and starch) and protein.
To ensure nutrients are absorbed from the soil you need a good root development which is stimulated by phosphorus. The uptake of phosphorus increases when the soil temperature at 10cm depth reaches 5/6°C. It is essential to make sure your levels of phosphorus are optimum early in the season to grow your root network for the best growth throughout the season. Applications of phosphorus have been seen to increase DM yield.
Potash is another essential nutrient which is required for efficient nitrogen uptake. You will need to give regular top ups as large amounts are removed when silage is harvested. Another benefit to potash is that when levels are adequate your grass is more drought resistant.
A common deficiency in soil is sulphur deficiency which can reduce grass growth and quality. Sulphur is essential as it is a vital part of some essential amino acids. With optimum sulphur you can see increases in protein content. Also, optimal levels can give rise to increased yields, sugar contents and reduced nitrogen losses.
For more information, speak to your Feed Specialist.