My love of cars and enjoyment of driving stems from the exquisite sense of freedom achieved as a result of purchasing my own vehicle as a teenager.   Summers of picking up hay provided sufficient money for the restrictions of push bikes and unreliable bus services to be released.

At that time a new car entering the neighbourhood was a special event, but it was the smell that indelibly etched itself into the memory.  New cars of 50 years ago had a unique pungency of fresh polish, new rubber, and hot oil quite unlike any today.

As a result I’ve never wanted to accept that oil is a finite resource and my support of offshore drilling is purely emotive and selfish. Logic provides a different perspective but emotion always wins.

Emotion is at the base of every action, logic is simply the tool used to justify the decision, and so it is with the use of fertiliser nitrogen.

The best long- term data shows that annual pasture production was significantly higher in the years prior to the widespread regular applications of nitrogen, particularly urea, however there is now a second generation of farmers who believes that their ability to grow sufficient pasture relies on its regular application.

Recently a farmer becoming increasingly concerned at where the discussion on its use was heading tried to end the session by saying that he didn’t care what the question was the answer was “more nitrogen”.

But what if the answer to generating more pasture is “less nitrogen” and ultimately “no nitrogen!”

The measures from properties using CalciZest/DoloZest based total nutrient programmes over the last ten years clearly show more pasture is grown than on properties using comparative conventional fertiliser nitrogen driven programme.

The cost is less and the increase has always been immediate.  The growth is equally dependent on nitrogen but it’s now fixed direct from the atmosphere mostly via clovers and stored in humus ready for use as required.

Because feed quality is higher fewer kilograms of dry matter are required to produce a kilogram of milksolids.  Fewer animals are required to achieve targeted production reducing the pressure on people, cow sheds, races, and water systems.

Animal health costs are markedly lower, and there are numerous properties now where empty rates are 10% or lower and intervention with penicillin is seldom required.

With greatly reduced stress on operators family times become more relaxed.  Clients spoken with recently cited the knowledge that they already had the ability to farm under the pending nitrogen regulations as a genuine positive.

These Overseer based regulations are designed to reduce animal numbers as cow urine is considered to be the greatest contributor to excess Nitrate-N leaking below the root zone of plants and less cows means less urine.

The model will doubtless be refined over time as data that shows that the concentration of urea in urine can be markedly influenced by the diet of the animal, however in the short term reducing animal numbers will help balance the equation.

There’s profit to be made from producing a genuine 1000kgMS/ha from pasture alone.  An increasing number of ESI clients are achieving this and with per cow production around 500kgMS a high level of per hectare production is achievable within the regulations.  For more information contact Peter on 0800 436 566

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