Thinking about making third-cut silage? Here’s a few things to keep in mind…

A lot of second-cut silage has been saved across farms over the last few weeks, as the mixture of warm and, at times, wet weather has allowed for grass growth rates to excel in many places.

Considering the wet spring farmers had to deal with and the drought in May and June, farmers, in many parts of the country, will be tempted to take a third cut of silage, if the opportunity presents itself.

The best thing a farmer can do to see if they require a third-cut of silage is to do up a fodder budget to see what feed supplies are sitting in the yard.

Only then will farmers know if they require extra feed for the winter period. Farmers that take a gamble could be forced into buying feed next spring.

Fertiliser

If the plan is to take a third cut, spread between 60-70 units of nitrogen (N)/ac to silage ground after second-cut silage. If a high amount of clover (>20%) is present in the sward, then less N is required.

In addition to N, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) off-takes must be replaced. The best way to do this is through the use of slurry; however, if no slurry is available a compound fertiliser can be used.

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Apply 1,500-2,000 gallons/ac of slurry as soon as possible after silage is lifted plus 55-60 units of N/ac – five-to-seven days later. If applying slurry, slightly less N is needed.

To get the best response, use a low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) method of application such as a trailing shoe. 

Teagasc studies revealed that LESS will retain an extra three units of N/1,000 gallons of slurry compared to a splash plate.

Where a third cut is not being made, spread 40-50 units of N/ac and replace P and K off-takes. This will leave you with grass to extend the grazing season in the back end.