Grassland Management and Nutrient Use Efficiency
Objective: – This course intends to cover two main components for the farmers:
- Sustainable grassland management practices to improve nutrient use efficiency.
- Increasing nutrient use efficiency by getting the most from fertiliser and slurry
Applying early nitrogen as nitrate will get your grass off to the best start, but if you combine this with urea you will get more flexibility without having to worry about the weather.
Format: – Course delivery for each course must include both theory (classroom/online) and practical (field/farm) elements. The design of this is at the discretion of the course organiser but shall be preapproved by DAFM.
Audience: – Farmers must attend this course unless they did more than the minimum of 10 grass measurements in 2020 and are prepared to do a minimum of 20 covers in 2021 and onwards. Grass measurements must be recorded on Pasture Base Ireland.
Benefits: – Under the terms and conditions of the Nitrates Derogation 2020 and 2021, derogation applicants are required to complete mandatory training
Learning Objectives: –
- Understanding grass growth rates and demand including appropriate stocking rates.
- Why do we need excellent grass quality?
- Rotation Planning – Spring rotation planer, Summer wedge and Autumn planner
- Grass Measuring and understanding the figures
- Decisions using appropriate software technology.
- Techniques to increase the nutrient use efficiency using clover.
- DAFM recommended varieties
Farm & Farmer benefits
Animals grazing grass or fed conserved forage from grass achieve significantly higher intakes when the quality is good, leading to very contented animals. This in turn is converted into higher milk solids production from lactating animals. The milk in turn will have higher constituents.
Typically milk protein difference between grazing grass at the correct stage, is of the order of 0.1% to 0.2% higher, than if left to grow for a further 5 days. At today’s milk prices, this difference can cost up to 1.5cent per litre. Also, the energy level drop/difference of the forage is typically 1 UFL /animal/day. Young animals on the farm grow at a faster rate, and significantly higher live weight gain is achieved on all animals.
Overall animals on the farm are healthier, and performance is maximised, when grassland management is improved. With better grassland management, a positive momentum is created. The challenge is to graze each sward when it is at/closest to the correct stage for grazing (for the stocking rate of the farm and the time of year). Grazing swards at higher than this, can create a repetition of similar cycles, and the negative consequences are extrapolated. Paddocks that are grazed too soon lead to a reduction in overall growth, as the sward becomes exhausted. In a typical 3 week cycle, 50% of the yield is grown in the 3rd week (grass grows grass).