The following article is from Farmway and was written by Richard Martin a technical specialist.
As I write this in Early April, it seems hard to believe that silage time will likely be at the ‘normal’ time.
However, grass quality will begin to decline at the same date as normal as this is determined by day length rather than temperature. This winter’s experience has taught us, if we did not know already, how important grass quality is to maintain stock performance and condition.
So, with grass D-value falling at a rate of 3 unity per week as soon as seed heads appear and D-value representing animal productivity and feed cost saving, it is vital that the grass is cut at the right time even if there is a slightly lower yield. Obviously, it is no good having the best, competition-winning silage, but then running out at the end of February, so consider making a second cut and getting the most from this.
Even in mid summer, grass responds well to nutrients. A good quality ley will respond to around 100kgN/ha (80units/acre) as well as potash and sulphur and from that you can expect around 6 tonnes/acre of silage. Sulphur is a nutrient which is often neglected when considering grass fertiliser. In many cases it will give extra yield now that air pollution has been significantly reduced. But, possibly more importantly, sulphur will lift sugar content and protein content of grass making each mouthful more valuable. If taking a second cut on more acres puts grazing under pressure, additional nitrogen invested here can also pay dividends. Despite the cost, it represents a small investment compared to the losses that can be incurred from either poor quality silage or insufficient silage.
A soil sample will confirm where your money might be best invested – lime, phosphate, potash or nitrogen.
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