How I was able to grow the same amount of weed with a lot less nitrogen

Drought is a small problem. I have to water the new hedge around the yard. I went to the trouble of getting it into the ground and I want to give it every chance to grow.

I’m growing 66kg DM/ha of weed with a requirement of 55kg DM so I’m fine but I don’t want it to go any lower. I will continue the 21 day rotation as things get tighter, adding feed first and then silage… but only if I have to. I am currently feeding 1kg of flour.

I checked my weed grown for 2022 to date and it was 7.4 tDM/ha. In the same period last year it was 7.3 tDM/ha so a minimal difference and I applied much less nitrogen: 157 kg compared to 204 kg at this point in 2021.

Happy to have cut nitrogen with no adverse effects on grass growth.

I attribute this to getting the clover right on the farm, a reseeding schedule, making better use of the manure and sorting out the pH of the soil.

Also encouraging my adviser, other farmers and researchers to believe the science and take the plunge and lower N rates in the summer.

I now use 25 units for each round. I could probably pull it back even further. The reduction in N consumption didn’t happen overnight, but it’s great to finally see the result.

I’ll come back to this at the end of the year when I have a full year’s worth of data.

I dosed for worms last week and also treated the calves for IBR. This is my first worm dose of the year. I followed my vet’s advice and waited for the calves to start coughing.

I’ve also done fecal samples lately and nothing has come up. Another time I would have dosed the yearling heifers blindly without considering whether I needed it or not – I had probably dosed too much.

Now that things have calmed down a bit on the farm, I’m working with my new advisor, Niamh Lynch, on how we can get our electricity bills under control while reducing emissions.

Options include installing a variable speed vacuum pump, heat recovery unit and solar panels.

Another option is a heat transfer unit, which uses heat from the compressor to heat water in a storage tank, available for €3,509.87 per unit.

There is also solar photovoltaic, which produces renewable electricity from the sun. This is available at a price of €2,861/KW up to a maximum of 11KW.

Dermot Heaney farms at Kilberry, Navan, Co. Meath. He is advised by Fergal Maguire, Owen McPartland and Niamh Lynch How I was able to grow the same amount of weed with a lot less nitrogen

Fry Electronics Team

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