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Muck Carpet Spreads Nutrient Message

14 November 2012

UK - A “muck carpet”, developed by EBLEX, illustrating how different types and levels of manure can affect grassland is helping get nutrient management messages across to livestock farmers.

Different application rates, associated nutrient levels and the relative costs of buying equivalent fertilisers can all be demonstrated on the two-metre-by-four-metre installation developed by EBLEX and Creedy Associates.

It was showcased at the Beef South West Event in Devon and spreads the message of reducing costs and improving effiency.

EBLEX beef and sheep scientist Dr Liz Genever said: “Feeding grass and forage crops properly with slurries and manures can boost growth. This means bought-in feed requirements can be reduced with potential savings to the business.

“However, for it to be done effectively, we need to look more closely at what is being spread and at what rate. Otherwise, requirements will not be met and nutrients could be wasted. We want to encourage more livestock farmers to evaluate what they are putting on, looking at the nutrient needs of a specific field with a soil test and applying slurry or manure when and where appropriate.

Aiming to save money in agriculture the 'muck carpet' aims to communicate messages to producers. For example; if 25 tonnes per hectare of manure is applied, it can supply 15kg of nitrogen, 48kg of phosphate and 180kg of potash, which could supply the phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) needed for a cut of silage. Bought in these nutrients would cost around £190 per hectare.

"Overall, our focus is on improving grassland yield and utilisation to ensure production is maximised off grass, which helps to reduce cost of production," said Dr Genever.

"We need to understand how much grass we are growing and utilising, and look to see how we can improve it."

TheCattleSite News Desk

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