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We are currently experiencing a huge variation in growth rates across the country. Average growth rates in drier areas have fallen dramatically, with average growth rates recorded on PastureBase down to 32kg DM/ha/day for Leinster and Munster (50-55kg for Connacht & Ulster). However, in regions where drought conditions have been prolonged, growth rates as low as 20 kg DM/ha are being recorded. Met Eireann shows soil moisture deficits currently ranging from 50-70+ mm in affected areas (30-50mm growth declines, greater than this growth is significantly hampered), signalling that a significant level of rainfall would be required to get growth levels back on track.

Forecasted rain at the weekend will be very welcomed, however, in most areas where a severe deficit is occurring, a plan to allow for 2-3 weeks of recovery must be in place to ensure sufficient grass is kept available.

 

Grassland management advice in a deficit:

 

Filling the gap:

Options for filling the deficit will be farm specific in most cases and will depend on facilities and fodder options in place on farm (example: feed barrier for buffering, feeding equipment, availability of high-quality silage etc.). Milk output/stage of lactation of the herd must also be considered when calculating requirements.

 

Two on-farm scenarios (100 cow herd, stocking rate 3.0 cows/ha)

Severe moisture deficit

 

Less severe moisture deficit

Practical considerations on farm:

  • A round bale of silage (30%DM) weighing 650-700 kg will contain approx. 190-210 kg of dry matter.
  • The availability of barrier space is essential when buffer feeding low quantities of silage/meal at the barrier.
  • It is also worthwhile where a deficit is occurring, and in many cases, where silage is being fed for prolonged periods and/or where silage blocks have had to be grazed; to conduct a fodder budget as soon as possible to plan for winter forage provisions.

 

For further advice on managing through soil moisture deficits, please contact your local Agritech Sales Advisor. 

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