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Improving our grazingRSS feed

Posted: Monday 8 July, 2013

by Rosemary at 5:06pm in Grassland management 1 comment Add your own

Back on 17th April, I posted a diary entry called “Helping the grass grow”. At the time, I was in a flat panic that the grass was never going to grow again. Well it has, and without us doing all the things I listed back in April:

The two Top paddocks are similar as are the two Ditch paddocks so I reckon they can get the same treatment. The samples have gone to SRUC at Forfar for testing. Each sample will cost £15.70 to test for pH, phosphate, potassium and magnesium. I could save some money by submitting one test, given our small acreage but the ground conditions do vary across the property. But if the tests come back very similar, I will only submit one sample in future. :-)

In fact, I submitted four samples – from the two Top paddocks, from the two Ditch paddocks, from Sheepfold and from Home Field – but looking at the results, three would have been sufficient. When we test again in 2015, it will be three we’ll do.

Paddock pH Lime requirement (grass) Extractable phosphorus Extractable potassium Extractable magnesium
Ditch 5.8 0.00 M+ Low Moderate
Top 5.7 0.8 t/acre M- Low Moderate
Home 6.8 0.00 High Low Moderate
Sheepfold 5.5 1.2 t/acre High M+ Moderate

In the meantime, SRUC has advised to spread a straight nitrogen fertiliser (33.5%) at 50kg/acre now. Thereafter, we’ve to apply 16.16.16 in mid-May and end of July, subject to the soil analysis. We may also have to lime. Given all this spreading, we have invested in a fertiliser spreader so that we can do this ourselves. The nitrogen fertiliser has been delivered – we just need to get the technology sorted out. The application rate of N is low, so should give the grass a boost without doing any long-term harm to the clover in the sward.

We did spread straight nitrogen at 50kg / acre; the wee spreader worked fine and we’ve some left for next year. We’ve got a contactor in to spread lime on Sheepfold, Ditch and Top though, for two reasons – the lime is a powder which would likely clog up our spreader and because of the quantities, it would have taken ages with our wee spreader. The contactor took about an hour to do the whole area. :-)

We may have over-limed a bit - my miscalculation  :-( - but given how light our soil is, it’s not likely to cause any significant problems.

We’re not applying any further nitrogen, because we have a lot of clover in the sward – it’s easy to forget in winter how much there is. At the moment, the paddocks are white with clover flowers and moving with bees. :-)

To correct the lack of potassium, I’ve been advised to spread Muriate of potash (potassium chloride), which is a 0:0:60, in the winter, but I need to do some further research on application rates, price, whether we can apply it with our spreader and whether we need to exclude livestock and so on.

We’ve also been advised to harrow hard and overseed at 1/3 rate with a ryegrass / clover mix. We’ve harrowed twice now and I have two bags of Barenbrug Barmix Renew in the shed ready to go. The grass seed mixture is designed for overseeding and contains ryegrass, timothy, cocksfoot and white clover.

The plan is to mix the grass seed and the fertiliser and spread them together in one pass, then roll.

As the grass started to come away, I decided not to overseed the whole area, but just to spot sow on the bare bits. I did this by hand and we haven’t rolled the fields at all. The plan to mix the grass seed and fertiliser was, of course, flawed. The physicists amongst you will have worked out that the spread of the two would be significantly different, given their different size and weight. :-)

We’ve finally got the topper going, so Dan has topped all but one of the paddocks, taking down the rushes and all the grass that had gone to seed. We were a wee bit late doing it, but we’ll be better prepared next year.

We’re rotating cattle and sheep round the five paddocks, moving them on a weekly basis – and if I win the Lottery, I’m going to buy a water trough for every paddock so that I don’t have to move them every week as well. :-)

Comments

chris

Wednesday 10 July, 2013 at 11:37pm

dont worry about your clover nitrogen wont kill it its a myth its when the grass grows fast and takes over this is when the damage is done just graze it hard and it will thrive

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