Increase feed quality with the first cut in grassland
Nutrient management has already been mentioned as a lever for ensuring yield and quality with the first cut in grassland. The timing and the quantities and types of nitrogen and sulphur administered are especially crucial here. On-farm manure should be supplemented with a mineral fertiliser application, since it is slow acting. Studies have shown that a well-founded manure strategy could double the grassland harvest.
It is important to make an initial application in the spring, when nutrient reserves from the soil are poorly available, but forage grasses need to build up a high level of plant mass in a short time. A mineral fertiliser containing nitrates and sulphates supplies quickly-available nutrients to the roots. The choice of nitrogen type here is decisive: Ammonium nitrate acts quickly and without ammonia losses through outgassing. Urea, on the other hand, is especially disadvantageous during dry years, when ammonia losses are increased. In turn, sulphur helps the grasses to use the nitrogen offered, as it ensures higher yields and increases the raw protein content of the silage.
Several parameters describe the feed quality of a grass silage, including the energy and crude protein content, the structural impact, the carbohydrate content, mineral and active ingredient content, the fermentation quality, hygienic condition and the aerobic stability of the silage. In order to ensure these parameters and therefore the success of the silage in a stable way, the harvesting process must be optimally designed in all its steps. Systems for automatically recording agricultural operations may assist here, as they ensure the operational effectiveness of the machines in the process chain and therefore improve the cost balance of the basic feed supply.
After the first step, this is a good point at which to reseed patchy stands and close the grassland sward. This helps to prevent sand ingress at the next harvest and the spread of weeds.