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Moorepark 2009 Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. B. Horan, J. Coleman, B. McCarthy and A. Brennan The Development of Future Grazing Systems- Grassland.

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Presentation on theme: "Moorepark 2009 Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. B. Horan, J. Coleman, B. McCarthy and A. Brennan The Development of Future Grazing Systems- Grassland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Moorepark 2009 Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. B. Horan, J. Coleman, B. McCarthy and A. Brennan The Development of Future Grazing Systems- Grassland Management and Fertilizer Use on Intensive Dairy Farms

2 Overview A change in systems objective…A change in systems objective… Appropriate management practiceAppropriate management practice Performance resultsPerformance results Fertiliser StrategyFertiliser Strategy Conclusions to date…Conclusions to date… Moorepark 2009

3 A Change in Research Objective 1,030 Profit per ha () NFS* 2, Profit per litre excl. 30 c/l () 0.23 Current Target *NFS, Profit per kg milk solids () Cost per litre excl. 30 c/l () 0.15 Currently have a very good production system – Focused on per litre profitability – Average grass production (~12.5 to 13 t DM/ ha) – Midseason sward quality decline (requirement for topping etc.) – Nutrient inefficient (~29% use efficiency)..but there are areas of weakness Little scope for productive expansion post milk quotas

4 Milk Price Volatility Milk Price will fluctuate between 22 and 40 c/l in futureMilk Price will fluctuate between 22 and 40 c/l in future As a low cost producer Ireland must develop systems that will be profitable each year, can cope with milk price volatility and allow for expansion opportunitiesAs a low cost producer Ireland must develop systems that will be profitable each year, can cope with milk price volatility and allow for expansion opportunities Moorepark 2009

5 A Change in Objective… To maximise profit per hectare of farm land and expand overall system productivity for a post milk quota milk production environment by: a)developing grazing techniques that maximise pasture production and feed value b)increasing stocking density to maximise feed utilisation c)generating a dairy herd that is both productive and highly feed efficient d)employing supplementation and nutrient use practices that facilitate improved environmental consequence Moorepark 2009

6 Appropriate Management Practice.. Growing & Harvesting More Grass Moorepark 2009 Irish dairy farms must deliver sufficient feed to expand herd size without increasing exposure to high cost external nutrient sources.

7 Grazing Technology – Basic Principles Measurement and informed decision making Extended grazing season based on feed budget (280+ days) Good roadways / paddock access/ water infrastructure Supplements included when grass supply is limited/ growth reduced Excellent soil fertility On/off grazing to avoid paddock damage and increase grazing efficiency Curtins Feed Budget

8 Growing more Grass Avoid poaching and topping Maximise leaf production & minimise decay Create a green leafy base Increase nutrient use efficiency Moorepark 2009

9 Growing more grass - The LUDF Model Growth is the product of light, nutrients and management Moorepark 2009 Residual 6 cm Pregrazing height 12 – 13 cm Avoid leaf death Create green leafy base Growth 12.5 tons /ha Residual 3.5 cm Pregrazing height 8-9 cm Current Growth 16 tons /ha

10 Dead Material Leaf Increase Leaf Production Moorepark 2009 Leaf production is maximized by grazing to 3.5cm residual height Bircham and Hodgson (1983)

11 Herbage mass accumulation (% of maximum) Historical grazing point ~ 1,800kg DM/ha New grazing point ~ 1,200kg DM/ha Exponential growth phase Little decay/ Max PAR Living green base Lag phase 1 Re-growth from dead base Lag phase 2 of regrowth Growth = Decay Dead base Creating and Maintaining a Green leafy Based Sward Moorepark 2009

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13 Grass Growth Results tons DM/ha/yr 2008: 15,964 kg DM/ha Large paddock to paddock variation unexplained by soil fertility Potential to grow 18 tons on older swards Some underperforming reseeds: - paddock size / residency time - increased requirement for fertiliser

14 Feb21-Feb 13-Mar 02-Apr22-Apr 12-May 01-Jun21-Jun 11-Jul31-Jul 20-Aug09-Sep 29-Sep 19-Oct 08-Nov28-Nov kg DM/ha/day Harvesting more Energy Higher stocking rates and earlier calving based on feed budgetHigher stocking rates and earlier calving based on feed budget 15 ton growth curve NFS Demand Demand 2.9 cows/ha Moorepark 2009

15 Stocking rate (LU/ha) Mean calving date 10/220/224/2 Pre-grazing yield (kg DM/ha) 2,2001,4401,390 Residual grazing height (cm) Concentrate (kg/cow) Fertilizer (kg N/ha) Grass growth (t DM/ha/yr) Milk Solids (kg/cow) (kg/ha) (kg/ha)5001, , ,214 Surplus feed (t DM/ha) System Performance

16 N is still fundamentally a cheap supplement if use efficientlyN is still fundamentally a cheap supplement if use efficiently –Objectives at high SR to maximise efficiency of 250kg N/ ha N savings based on grassland measurement and slurry useN savings based on grassland measurement and slurry use Increase dilute slurry use in January-MarchIncrease dilute slurry use in January-March –33% of area receiving 2,500 gals./ac in January –15% of area receiving 2,500 gals./ac in March Mid-season fertiliser usage based on grass supply targetsMid-season fertiliser usage based on grass supply targets –Reduced to 10 units of CAN when growth allows Fertiliser Strategy P and K requirements based on an annual soil testP and K requirements based on an annual soil test

17 Month Kg N/ha Month Jan/Feb21July21 March36August21 April28September33 May43 June43Total246 *All area included until April 5 th, 60% area included from April 6 th to May 25 th, 75% area included from May 26 th to July 15 th and all area subsequently Fertiliser Strategy Moorepark 2009

18 Nutrient Budgeting Future? Stocking rate (LU/ha) Grazing season (days) Grass (kg DM/cow) 4,0403,5003,500 Concentrate (kg/cow) Fertilizer (kg N/ha) Milk yield (kg/cow) 6,3005,5005,500 Milk Protein (g/100g) Total N import (kg/ha) Total N export (kg/ha) Total N surplus (kg/ha) N-use efficiency (%) *Estimates based on available information – October 2008

19 Developments in Irish Grazing Systems –Stocking rates must match growth – 3.3 cows per hectare –Management practice can increase plant growth Residual grazing height of 3.5 to 4 cmResidual grazing height of 3.5 to 4 cm Shorter rotations with 8 – 9 cm pre-grazing heightShorter rotations with 8 – 9 cm pre-grazing height – Increased use of dilute slurry in spring –Growth potential of pastures has been underestimated – 18 tons

20 Preliminary Conclusions 1,500 Production (kg MS/ha) 1, Pasture production (kg DM/ha) 3.3 Realised Stocking Rate (LU/ha) Current Future Curtins Performance Outcomes Profit (/kg MS) >2.00>2.00 –Profit potential of well run pasture-based systems is high –Focus on informed decisions and processes. a)developing grazing techniques that maximise pasture production and feed value b)increasing stocking density to maximise feed utilisation c)generating appropriate dairy cows d)employing improved supplementation and nutrient use practices Outcomes

21 Moorepark 2009 Teagasc Moorepark wish to acknowledge Dairy Levy Funding Weekly updates on Teagasc farms available at:


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