Meetings to focus on forage

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Quality forage is a must for all livestock farmers.

The only way to achieve this is by ensuring that the nutrition of the crop is prioritised.

Fertiliser buying decisions cannot be based solely on what has been bought for the last 20 years.

Stocking rates and output have risen producing more manure that has enriched the land with certain nutrients.

Atmospheric conditions have changed leading to a significant fall in Sulphur deposition. Figures show that the total Sulphur (SO2) deposition fell by 77% between 1987 and 2008. Sulphur is an essential part of the production of protein, therefore if enough is not present lower quality silage will be the result.

Soil results from Lancrop’s broad spectrum analysis over the last three years have shown grassland soil to be on average 67% short of Calcium. What has to be considered is that Calcium is an essential nutrient for plant and animal health not just about altering pH. In a plant cell 90% of the Calcium it contains is in the cell wall, a soil that is short of plant available Calcium will see plants with cell disintegration and more disease.

There are four elements that have a significant effect on pH Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium.

Magnesium in particular is having a significant effect on the nation’s soils, where excessive levels of Mag Lime have been applied making the soil sticky and appearing to have the correct pH.

A soil with a pH of 6.5 and high Magnesium can still be short of Calcium, as Magnesium effect on soil pH is 1.67 times that of Calcium.

Farmers who have used Calcifert Sulphur over the last few years have seen forage quality improved. Silage analysis for 2014 has shown CP 14.2 ME 11.6 D Value 72 compared to the regional average of CP10.8 ME 10.6 D Value 66. All the farmers also reported significantly improved intakes of forage.

Examining the costing for farm diets highlighted the improvement in margin that has been achieved with quality silage.

On all of the farms, bought in feed costs have reduced both in terms of quantity and price. The costings on one farm have shown an annual saving of £20,000 which equates to 1.7ppl.

Calcifert Sulphur has a significant role to play in producing quality crops. Firstly it supplies plant available Calcium which leads to healthy plant cells and good quality grass being harvested and ensiled.

Secondly it supplies plant available Sulphate which is key to the production of protein and water soluble carbohydrates. Sulphur must also be present for the efficient utilisation of Nitrogen and as mentioned above sulphur deposition has reduced drastically, therefore it is essential Sulphur is applied for 1st Cut silages. An application of Calcifert Sulphur late Feb early March will provide what is required.

Meetings where presentations and discussion of the relevance of Calcifert Sulphur application to all crops including cereals, grass and forage, potatoes, fruit and vegetables are to be held at the venues listed below.

3rd February 2015 - Drummond Hotel, Ballykelly 11.30am; City Hotel Armagh, Armagh, 8pm start.

4th February 2015 Tannery Moira, Moira 11.30am; Strangford Arms Hotel, Newtownards 8pm.