The GrassCheck podcast returned last week, with the first episode of this year focusing on grassland management in dry weather conditions.

In the episode, Kat Huson from AFBI discussed the current grass growth and cumulative growth for the current grazing season both of which are well behind the seasonal average.

The grazing season had a slow start in spring and a high grass growth peak in June but July’s dry and hot conditions brought a rapid decline in grass growth especially in the east of the province. The west has a higher and more consistent grass growth this year compared to the east, but all grass growth figures are sitting below expected values for July.

GrassCheck dairy farmer Geoffrey Malcolmson who farms near Newry, talked about the grazing season he has experienced which was very slow to start and now his grass growth rates have decreased due to the dry weather. With regards management, Geoffrey discussed how his experience of the 2018 drought had motivated him to calve the bulk of his herd in the autumn to allow for reduced grazing pressure during the summer.  He also made a point of getting cows out to grass as early as possible in the spring.

Trevor Sommerville, a GrassCheck beef farmer from Dungannon, spoke about his experience this year with grass growth and how the cold, dry spring followed by a wet period in April impacted his grazing ground. He discussed how the dry and hot weather conditions have not hit his farm as hard as those in the east, but it has impacted his lighter ground which is struggling compared to his heavier ground.

Robert Patterson and Noel Lavery from CAFRE gave guidance on grassland management during hot and dry conditions.  This included trying to maintain a cover of about 2,100 kgDM/ha, and not sowing fertiliser on the ground until rain is forecasted as there will be no growth response.

They both highlighted the importance of keeping the animals well fed and watered and to graze highest quality ground with priority animals. An emphasis was placed on balancing the grass supply and grass demand and the need to start to assessing winter feed stocks.

The GrassCheck podcast can be accessed via the AgriSearch website or podcast directories such as Apple, Google, Spotify and Amazon Music. Or click HERE.