29 March 2002

Abundant poor grass

AVOIDING pastures growing away from cows in spring is vital to ensure a thick sward later in the season.

Richard Martin of Terra Nitrogen says there is currently an acceleration of grass growth, but conditions under foot are poor. "There is a temptation to keep cows inside for longer, but that can be counter-productive."

He believes it is important to keep sward heights to an optimum level and to keep grass growing, rather than cut back on fertiliser. "Keeping the sward grazed tight in spring promotes tillering, so the leaf proportion of grass increases producing a higher protein and energy content. This will also increase the swards production potential for the rest of the season."

Options for using grass in a wet spring include, zero-grazing, grazing for a few hours in the middle of the day – ensuring cows have an appetite – on a specific area or allocating more area for silage. &#42