After the second-cut silage has been harvested, it is an opportune time for farmers to spread lime on their silage fields in order to correct any pH deficiencies and improve soil health. Due to the wet weather, many farms are still waiting to harvest their second cuts of silage, but once it has been harvested, farmers can take advantage of this period to address soil pH and fertility issues in their fields.
One of the benefits of spreading lime after the second-cut silage is that the sward is clean, which means that the lime will not stick to the grass leaves. This provides farmers with the perfect opportunity to correct the pH levels in fields that require it. Before spreading lime, farmers can spread slurry, but it is advised to allow a 10-day break between these applications. This also ensures that the required time between lime and slurry, which is three months, can be observed. However, if lime is applied before slurry, farmers should wait three to six months before applying slurry. Similarly, if lime is spread before urea is applied, farmers need to wait three to six months before applying urea. According to Teagasc, spreading lime after urea is not a problem.
Having fields with the wrong soil pH can reduce the effectiveness of chemical fertilizers. Silage crops on most dairy farms require the highest amount of chemical nitrogen inputs, so it is crucial for farmers to maximize the efficiency of their fertilizers. By correcting the pH of the soils on a farm, farmers can achieve the same grass growth using less chemical fertilizer. Lime is a relatively inexpensive input on farms, but it can have a significant impact on the need for chemical inputs, resulting in substantial cost savings.
Determining whether lime is required is an important first step, and soil tests are the only reliable way to assess this. The results of these soil tests will determine the amount of lime needed, but it is also essential to seek advice on how long the lime should be spread. In some cases, fields that require significant amounts of lime may need to have it spread over a number of years.
In conclusion, after the second-cut silage has been harvested, farmers have an excellent opportunity to address soil pH deficiencies and improve soil health by spreading lime on their silage fields. This can result in more efficient use of chemical fertilizers and significant cost savings for farmers. Soil tests should be conducted to determine the amount of lime needed, and farmers should seek guidance on the duration of lime spreading for fields requiring substantial amounts of lime.