Tackling Efficiency From The Ground Up.

6th March 2022

Gary Spence, Fane Valley Agronomy & Forage Services

The financial pressures facing farmers this year will be exceptional with feed, fertiliser, and fuel costs at record highs. Fane Valley Feeds and Agronomy & Forage teams will be working together to develop solutions to help farms remain profitable. The aim will be to do the simple things well and focus on being efficient in all areas of the farm business.

An important starting point is to take soil samples across your farm to ensure the most appropriate fertiliser is being used and most importantly to correct the soil pH. Soil pH is key to ensuring nutrients are available to the plant and can have a major impact on yield and profitability. 

At pH 5.5, only 77% of nitrogen, 48% of phosphorus and 77% of potassium is available. This could result in a nutrient loss worth of £206/t if applying 27-5-5, and at a pH of 6.0 as much as £110/t could be lost if applying the same grade of fertiliser. 

To maximise nutrient efficiency in the face of high fertiliser price, correcting pH should be the key focus this year. Calciprill granular lime is the fastest and most cost-effective way to correct pH for 2022, ensuring fertiliser is being used effectively. 

Forage quality remains crucial for next winter’s feed despite high fertiliser prices. A focus should be made on producing enough high-quality forage for the coming season and ensuring there is enough silage to feed throughout next winter, especially as silage to purchase could be scarce. 

Silage yields should not be substituted for quality. A reduction in 0.5 MJ per kg/DM could result in a loss of yield in dairy cows between 1-2 litres/day and would require the need to feed an extra 1kg of meal per day to finishing cattle to achieve the same performance. Fane Valley Agronomy & Forage Services is on hand to help create a forage budget to assess what is required as well as interpreting soil analysis and deriving a tailored fertiliser plan for individual farms. 

With increasing concentrate prices, it is important to maximise production from forage. Targeted concentrate feeding is still vital to maximise performance and ensure targets are met. Fane Valley Feeds specialists can create feeding solutions on farm to ensure that the best can be taken from home grown forages, as well as providing a feeding strategy to financially improve the business by maintaining animal health. 

Efficient animals are healthy animals so it is imperative to review the herd health plan for the season ahead to ensure animals are reaching their potential. All animals should 

also be assessed to identify any problems with fertility or lameness, as this will have an economic impact both short and long term.

Using these strategies can address the increase in input costs this year and help maintain profitability on farm. 

For more information visit your local Fane Valley Store, contact your Fane Valley Feeds representative on 028 8224 3221, or for Fane Valley Agronomy & Forage call 028 92610485.