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HomeDairyHow much fertiliser is required for second-cut silage?
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How much fertiliser is required for second-cut silage?

We are just half-way through the calendar year and to say the least 2020 has been eventful, writes Éanna Loughrey, Teagasc B&T Drystock Advisor.

The prolonged dry period has taken its toll on first cut silage and has reduced the quantity of grass grown on farms. It is important to look to good grassland management to fill any winter fodder deficit and maintain quality grass going into the second half of the year.

Assessing the required forage can be simply done using the table below to estimate what your animals will eat over the winter period. If in doubt contact your local Teagasc Adviser to give you a hand.






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No. of stock to be kept over winter

Number of months (include a 4-6 week reserve)

Pit silage needed (Tonnes/animal/month)

Total tonnes of silage needed (multiply AxBxC)

Dairy cows





Suckler cows





0-1 year old





1-2 year old





2+ year old










Total tonnes needed – D

Total bales needed – E


Table 1:

Finding out what is needed on the farm is the easy part, getting a plan in place to correct the deficit is not done without its difficulties. Looking at second cut silage, a few factors must be considered when applying 2nd cut fertilizer.

  1. If rain is forecast and slurry is available spread slurry;
  2. Do not apply slurry if there is no rain coming as you will get a crust;
  3. If no rain is forecast or there is no slurry available look at spreading a compound fertilizer;
  4. If no rain is forecast and the dry conditions of early June have persisted split the compound fertilizer application, this reduces the amount of fertilizer sitting on the ground if not washed in.

Table 2 gives guidelines on the quantity of fertilizer required for a second cut silage crop. It is recommended that in some areas where the ground is free draining that 10-15 units/acre of sulphur is spread.

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