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Author Topic: Fertilizer?  (Read 394 times)

Russpig

  • Joined Aug 2017
Fertilizer?
« on: March 15, 2019, 12:01:54 pm »
We have 5 acres and run 13 lambing ewes on it.

Interested to find out what's best to fertilize the grass with and when to do it?

Just planning on doing by hand as access for tractors etc not good. Plus the fields aren't that big.
Any help much appreciated!
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shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Argyll
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2019, 12:53:01 pm »
Soil sample analysis  would be a starting point otherwise  just guessing on fert type and do you need lime ? ,speak to your local ag merchant

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2019, 05:55:02 pm »
We never use fertiliser on our land.  We have encouraged a variety of herbs and clover which feed both the soil and the sheep.  Otherwise, sheep dung  :poo:  is all it gets, as the sheep roam.  The new grass is available perhaps slightly later in spring than our fertilising neighbours, but we never get grass staggers or any other problem with sudden weak growth.  Once the grass does start to grow, our sward is a noticeably darker green than the fertilised versions, and our hay doesn't lodge so badly.
www.scothebs.co.uk

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Russpig

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2019, 08:02:06 pm »
Interesting point with the clover!
Is this something I could maybe do instead,
Scatter some clover seeds about the field?

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2019, 08:20:09 pm »
Don't use straight nitrogen as it isn't balanced. As you have limited access I am presuming you aren't cutting for hay. Therefore if just grazing something like a 25-5-5, or 20-10-10 will be fine. Or if you want to encourage clover, use a fertiliser that is higher in phosphate and clover will spring up all over as if by magic. It's not worth paying to get it tested for N, P and K with only 5 acres. If you have good grass that is being evenly eaten down and does not have a lot of weeds it is unlikely to need lime. But lime testing is usually free so might be worth doing if in doubt. You can get lime granules in small bags that can be spread with a hand spreader.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 08:38:57 pm by landroverroy »
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shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Argyll
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 08:57:44 pm »
Low Phosphate & Potash can affect growth , nutritional value , quality of grass and can be bought as straights and if the PH is wrong it seriously affects  the grass and its response to npk .   

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 11:09:08 pm »
Interesting point with the clover!
Is this something I could maybe do instead,
Scatter some clover seeds about the field?


We raked our fields to create places where seeds could take root, then sprinkled clover and, separately a grazing mix suggested by the seed company after a visit.  The ground was then rolled and left to get on with it.  It has definitely improved the sward for what we want - nutritious grazing.  If you use fertilizer then the clover doesn't grow.  It's an action which takes a couple of years to bear fruit, and is a solution for permanent pasture.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2019, 12:57:07 pm »
Interesting point with the clover!
Is this something I could maybe do instead,
Scatter some clover seeds about the field?


  If you use fertilizer then the clover doesn't grow.  It's an action which takes a couple of years to bear fruit, and is a solution for permanent pasture.


Sorry to disagree Fleecewife but fertiliser, as an unspecified quality, does not necessarily discourage clover. Nitrogen on its own suppresses it, especially in large amounts, but phosphorus greatly encourages the growth of clover and you get it growing on fields where you never noticed it before. If you have a field with plenty of clover, you can manage without additional nitrogen, but there is nothing wrong with applying a small amount of a compound in spring to get your grass growing sooner.   
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2019, 05:18:29 pm »
Do not use artificial fertiliser, it's not a sustainable method of farming.  Increase your organic matter instead which will feed the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil - they will provide your grass with everything that it needs.  If you can get a local farmer to spread some manure on then do so, but make sure it's not from animals that have been pumped with ABs and wormers as that won't do your soil any good.
As Fleecewife says, a mix of grasses and herbs will help improve your soil structure and provide a range of minerals to your sheep.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2019, 06:25:50 pm »
Artificial fertilisers and increasing the organic matter of your soil are by no means self exclusive Foobar. In fact they fit well together.  I have sandy land whose organic and water holding capacity have been increased greatly by grazing it and wintering my cattle on it, while fed hay and bedded on straw. The wasted hay and straw bedding rot down and are spread on the field. We apply a small amount of of artificial fertiliser in spring to get the grass growing. It would be a total waste to use no fertiliser and so have to wait a further month for the grass to grow, and to have no spring flush of grass to increase milk yields and give our spring born calves a really good start in life.
It may suit you to waste the potential of your land on the basis of dogma, but it doesn't suit everyone, and nor is it an efficient use of land and resources. There are many shades of grey between overuse of fertiliser and using none at all, and there is no "one size fits all".
   
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Argyll
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2019, 07:55:19 pm »
Phosphate  /  Potash  / Lime  all come from natural sources and if are not at the correct levels in your soil  then any clover or grasses and herbs will not perform to their full potential .   Every time you make hay or silage you remove large amounts of especially Potash from the soil

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2019, 07:00:07 am »
going back to the original post ….  5 acres and only 13 sheep …..  fertiliser not required …. just rotate graze well (small paddocks and keep moving) grass will improve.  If you make hay then some muck spreading post baling will put back nutrients (offer land to neighbouring cattle farm for spreading his FYM?) .     If you are planning on seriously increasing sheep numbers then my response would be different. 

Strip grazing cattle has done more to improve my grass than anything else.
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landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Fertilizer?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2019, 09:54:43 am »
Ok - to all of those who say - "don't use fertiliser" - you are quite right, the grass will grow without any. But if you want a bit more grass, or to give it a boost in spring, then adding a small amount in spring (ie now) is the answer.
The original post asked how much and when - not who puts fertiliser on and who doesn't :innocent: So even though there are only 13 ewes on 5 acres, I bet there wasn't any spare grass after last year's dry summer, and who knows, perhaps some of the lambs are to be  kept.
For those of you that suggested getting some manure from a neighbour - you don't plaster your grazing land with someone else's manure, thus making it inedible to your own stock until it's washed off or new growth has appeared (Which again was in short supply last summer) Apart from the fact that the OP has said they have small fields, with difficult tractor access, and will be spreading anything by hand, you surely aren't envisaging them spreading muck with a wheelbarrow and fork? :thinking:
Even grazing land needs nutrients replacing, and the main one that grazing animals take up is phosphate, which also, as mentioned will encourage clover. Potash is largely put back in the soil on grazing land, in the form of urine, and is generally needed more where you are taking a grass crop off as the grass (and potash) are then removed from the field and need replacing. This is where ruminant manure would be useful as it is high in potash.


So - to answer the question - I would put on about one bag/acre of either 20-10-10, 25-5-5,  - which are general purpose blends, or - specifically as a grazing one which will encourage clover - something higher in phosphate like a 20 -15-5 . You can apply it now, as the grass has started growing and will take it up. Also, it is not poisonous to grazing animals so you do not have to remove them from the land where you have applied it.
The figures mentioned refer to the amounts of nitrogen, phosphate and potash, in that order.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2019, 10:00:47 am by landroverroy »
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

 

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