Moisture and N affect growth

17 October 1997

Moisture and N affect growth

GRASS growth is still ranging from 40 to 20kg DM/ha/day, the variation mainly due to moisture and soil nitrogen levels, according to New Zealand grazing consultant Paul Bird, who is working in the UK for the British Grassland Society.

Grass growth is declining more rapidly on farms that have not applied nitrogen since July/ August. Crown rust has also been more of a problem on these farms.

Driving around the southern counties it is very obvious that most dairy farmers have not been following good grazing management practice throughout the summer. The result is that there is now poor quality, rotting grass in many fields that is only fit for sheep. What is of most concern is that this type of grass is considered by many to be the norm.

Autumn calved cows cannot produce milk off composting grass and as a result there is some advice suggesting that autumn grass is of little value for producing milk. But get summer grazing right next year and you will end up with high quality, autumn milk producing grass.

If your cows can only produce 10 litres from grazing take a critical look at why. Dont slam the grass when your management may be the limiting factor. A combination of stocking rate inflexibility and grazing grass that is too long has been the main difficulty.

On farms that have improved their grazing technique, cows are on their last grazing of each field – the grass residual should be about 1500kg DM/ha. As long as there are not too many clumps of grass this should be acceptable to carry over the winter for early graz-ing.

See more