by Brian Knapp, Regional Sales Agronomist (S. IA, KS, MO)
Traditional pasture fertilization programs have been very basic and built on the premise to fertilize early with high nitrogen rates in the spring to achieve maximum quantity. The balance of the year the forage is supposed to thrive even though the nitrogen has run its course in most areas by early to mid-June. The “get it done while we can’t be in the field and forget it” mentality serves our time constraints well, but is it best management of the grass or livestock?
When we apply nitrogen to grass in a traditional manner multiple things can take place. First of all, large flushes of nitrogen cause grass to be “washy”. In an ongoing study with replicated trials, QLF is conducting on fescue, applying Urea has shown nice “as fed” tonnage results with the forage looking dark green. At the same time, the dry matter levels recovered were lower or equal to other treatments where a more balanced approach using lower levels of nitrogen with a Liquid Carbon-Based Fertilizer (LCBF) approach was applied. The second thing that happens when applying higher levels of nitrogen at one time is that there is a greater chance for increased endophyte in fescue. Thirdly, the higher the nitrogen applications the more unbalanced nutrient levels in the forage can become. The final thing I will touch on is when we push nitrogen levels, we increase the risk of early embryonic deaths due to increased blood urea levels in the bred females. If the forage takes up high levels of nitrogen and isn’t able to convert it to stable forms of protein before the cows consume it then blood nitrogen levels can cause problems.
We run forage analysis to come up with TDN, crude protein, RFV and mineral content levels. From the work we have done on testing forage, we are improving nutrient levels in the plants and the total amount of nutrients per acre available to the animal due to higher total dry matter content and nutrient density. Depending on the LCBF approach we take we are seeing 10-20% improvement in dry matter tons. The improvements we are realizing in forage are not at all surprising as they are consistent with what we have found true for several years in crop production. More nutrient uptake and biomass in crop production result in higher yield and better ROI. More nutrient-dense dry matter in forage equates to more pounds of beef per acre produced.
QLF agronomy has made it simple to achieve better dry matter levels of nutrient-dense forages with Amino 15. Amino 15 carries the LCBF approach and ties liquid nitrogen with the highly available carbon source in all LCBF products, sugar cane molasses, plus the added benefit of plant-available Amino Acids. Simply put, stable forms of highly available nutrients aid the plant in efficiently building better nutrient profiles for higher quality and quantity forages.
Simple philosophy – better forms of nutrients are better before more is better.