Agronomy Advice
May 17, 2024

Grassland Grazing Tips for May to June

By: Philip Cosgrave

We’re heading into a busy period for grassland farmers and as ever, the weather can change everything in a heartbeat. Here are a few things to focus on throughout the rest of May and heading into June.

Two dairy cows in a field
Two dairy cows in a field

Responsive farming

The most important, and easiest, thing we can be doing right now is completing a weekly farm walk of the grazing platform and then responding to what we see. If the weather changes suddenly it’s important to see how that impacts grass growth and ground condition. Walking the grazing platform is the best way to gather intelligence on how our grass is growing and help us make decisions on what to do to improve it.

Use data to make informed decisions

Farmers should be gathering information and data about their farm, grass and animals all the time. But what use is that data without collating it and extracting intelligence from it? Using a grassland management decision support tool such as Agrinet, will ensure that the data you collect works hard to improve farm outputs.

Grazing Rotations 

Keep on top of your grazing rotation. You’re best to keep good, tight residuals; Yara would recommend that you ensure fields are grazed down to around 4 cm.

Maintain high grass quality

Don’t let grass growth run away from you. As soon as grass grows beyond that 3 leaf stage it’s nutritional content reduces which will have a knock on impact as to how much your cows will eat and how well grazed the paddock is, affecting future grass growth and ultimately milk production.

Sward renovation

Towards the end of May, as you walk your fields, you should be looking for areas that need a bit of renovation such as patches that might have been poached earlier in the spring, especially around paddock entry and exit points. Before renovation make sure the paddock has been well grazed off and there is enough moisture in the soil before sowing the grass seed.

Nitrogen applications

For those farmers who have low levels of clover in their paddocks, keeping up-to-date with regular nitrogen applications is essential. You would preferably apply fertiliser immediately after grazing or within a week, leaving it any longer lowers the grass growth response to nitrogen. We would recommend applying 30-40 kg N/ha in total in May followed by around 30 kg N/ha in June. Yara’s fertiliser of choice (if you don’t need potassium and phosphate) is YaraBela NutriBooster, which contains both nitrogen, sulphur and selenium.

Don't forget about P & K

Have you analysed your soil recently? Are your phosphate and potassium indexes low? If so, you’ll need to spread a high quality NPKS. In this instance we’d recommend YaraMila StockBooster S. Soil fertility data is highlighting a deterioration in soil potash fertility which is hardly a surprise considering the huge decrease in potash sales since 2022. Remember soil potash fertility is crucial for grass growth on both grazing and silage swards.