Agronomy Advice
June 02, 2023

Managing Grassland in Drought Conditions

Our summers seem to be getting hotter, we’ve seen four of the five warmest summers on record since 2003


A very real impact of the climate change we read so much about. It looks like hotter summers are something we will just have to weather and it becomes another thing farmers need to plan for. There are mitigating strategies to help you weather the storm…or in this case, drought! 

Firstly, don’t forget that grass DM is higher during drought periods, so don’t underestimate your grass supply. But the best course of action is to control grass demand by supplementing feeding. This should help to hold grass cover on the farm. 

Post grazing residuals should be maintained at 4-4.5cm, any higher and you’re wasting valuable grass feed. And remember, you need grass to grow grass, so keep a close eye on your grass levels. 

It’s important to maintain a healthy grass wedge to promote grass growth once the rain comes. Our guidance would be to keep your average farm cover above 2,000kg DM/ha and keep rotations to 25 days long. 

Should you apply fertiliser in a drought? 

You need moisture to see a return from fertiliser, so if you have dirty water, apply this with the fertiliser in the evening. 

However, if growth rates have dipped below 35kg DM/ha, nitrogen applications should stop. Nitrogen in the soil is released after a drought so it’s easy to over-fertilise. Wait until the rain comes and growth rates have climbed to over 45kg DM/ha and then apply your fertiliser at 15-20kg N/ha after grazing.