Maximising spring feed with nitrogen

When hay and grain prices are high, nitrogen can be a cost effective way to generate additional feed.

How much does nitrogen grown grass cost?

This will depend on the cost of urea, the response rate and the utilisation (how much of the extra growth is wasted).

When purchased feed prices are high, below average response rates will be profitable.

Pasture conservation

In the case of pasture conservation, it is recommended to apply N at a higher rate (up to 60 kg of N/ha in later spring), after grazing when the pasture is closed up for conservation.

Results from using split applications of N, for example after grazing and again partway through regrowth, are more variable, and this practice isn’t recommended.

Watch this short video, with farm consultant Matt Harms talking to nitrogen expert Professor Richard Eckard, on how to use nitrogen to maximise feed.

You may also visit the Dairying for Tomorrow website. The More Profit from Nitrogen project is supported by funding from Dairy Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

Download the 'Maximising spring feed with nitrogen' fact sheet

Key messages

  • Nitrogen boosted pasture can be significantly cheaper than imported fodder
  • Even at low responses of 5:1 or 3:1 (refer to Table 1), nitrogen application could be very economical this season
  • Apply N at rates of 20–50 kg N/ha per application, no closer than 21 to 28 days apart when the pasture is actively growing and can utilise the N
  • Ensure soil moisture is adequate to sustain the regrowth and temperatures are conducive to good pasture growth