Silage making has kicked off in many parts of the country, and for those looking to second cuts, replenishing nutrients is essential if yield and quality levels are to be maintained.

Application rates of each nutrient will vary from farm to farm and be influenced by previous years applications, according to Julia Andrews, Scottish-based nutrition agronomist at Origin Fertilisers who added that advice from a FACTS qualified advisor, alongside a detailed soil analysis, will help understand where these deficiencies are.

“It is swards that have access to the right nutrients that will bounce back quicker after cutting. The inclusion of nutrients such as sodium will increase sugar content of grass and therefore improve the process of fermentation when making silage. Furthermore, good sodium reserves can also mimic potassium in certain cases where the potassium level is too low, which helps with stress resistance and water regulation,” says Ms Andrews.

Sulphur is also an important nutrient in the profile and plays a key role in nitrogen conversion. A blended fertiliser application based on soil analysis can tailor the fertiliser applied to the soil requirements and maximise any investment in nutrition.

In-house manures are a key nutrition source and making the most of slurry applications involves the correct timing and application method to maximise the nutrient value. Getting slurry tested will also allow a targeted approach to nutrient improvements and allow tailored fertiliser to match soil requirements, she said.

The Scottish Farmer: Applications rates of nutrients will vary from farm to farm says Julia AndrewsApplications rates of nutrients will vary from farm to farm says Julia Andrews

Slurry applications should take place immediately after harvesting, with an application of inorganic fertiliser a week later in accordance with a nutrient management plan. This is to avoid de-nitrification, which occurs when covering inorganic nitrogen fertiliser in slurry. It creates anaerobic conditions and means nitrogen is lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide.

“It is therefore crucial to leave a week between applications and always apply slurry first to maximise nutrient values,” comments Ms Andrews.