Nutrition of Grassland

“Do you grow grass or do you let your grass grow ?”

All too often the answer is that grass is just left to grow, without using the fundamental principles that are adopted for growing other crops. Just as with those other crops, grass has a huge yield and quality potential that should be exploited by livestock producers.

Nutrition of Grassland

Both yield and quality, are greatly influenced by the mineral nutrient supply, so it is essential to have a structured approach to managing these nutrients within the grass management plan. Such an approach will give considerations towards: the nutrient demand by the crop, the nutrient supply from the soil and other organic material applied, and the fertilizer requirement to fill this gap.

The Yara 1-2-3 Step Approach helps to bring structure to this process:

Step 1. Do you measure to help manage your nutrients ?

The best way to manage is first to measure. Step 1 is all about measuring to understand the nutrient supply chain. Samples of the soil, manures/slurries and previous forage (e.g. silage) that are available should be sent to Lancrop Laboratories for broad spectrum analysis giving values to the pH and nutrient content (including Selenium).

This will build knowledge of the soil and organic manures and coupled with grass nutrient requirement figures can be used to produce a Nutrient Management Plan.

Step 2. How accurate is your fertilizer application ?

Taking the results from Step 1 (a Nutrient Management Plan), Step 2 considers the products that are available to best fulfil the gap in nutrient requirement and their application. The latter being both the rate of use and spreader set up. Accuracy of application is an essential component and is best achieved using quality, uniform fertilizers.

Step 3. Is your fertilizer plan giving you results ?

A good management process needs to have a review element to it, enabling adjustments that lead to continual improvements. Step 3 therefore is about further measurement and monitoring through the season to understand the level of success being achieved. 

Measurements should include grass/forage leaf tissue analysis for nutrient content and quality which will help towards better management of the livestock diet and enable adjustments to the fertilizer plan. Regular monitoring of grass growth will raise awareness and act as an alert to issues that might be restricting productivity.

Find out more about the nutrition of grassland as well as detailed recommendations for all grassland systems in the brochure.

View or download the Nutrition of Grassland Brochure as a PDF (5.5 MB)

BASIS Register There is a single BASIS cpd point available for reading this brochure, this can be claimed online via the BASIS website, quoting reference PN/59392/1718/g, valid until 31st May 2018.