Why you should fertilize your hay fields every year
Although the 2021 harvest helped restore hay inventories, regular fertilization of fields remains essential if you want to optimize yields.
“At this point, fertilizing is extremely profitable, even with the high price of fertilizer,” indicates Sollio Agriculture specialist advisor François Labrie. “The additional earnings can be as high as $324/ha. And that doesn’t even take into account the crop’s superior nutritional value,” he adds.
Sollio Agriculture developed the concept of N-Prairies fertilization specifically to help farmers maximize their forage production. “There are two fertilizer formulations, one for grasses and one for forage legume,” explains Labrie.
The N-Prairies solution, which contains a fertilizer for forage legume and another for grasses, is to be applied after each cut.
“Because of time constraints, many farmers forget to fertilize their fields after the first cut,” points out Labrie. N-Prairies is there to remind them that proper fertilization helps increase forage yield and quality.” He also indicates that fertilizing after each cut enhances plant regrowth and helps with survival over the winter.
A proven formula
Field testing between 2011 and 2013 showed that grass fields fertilized with nitrogen produce significantly taller plants and higher yields.
“During testing, the application of a fertilizer such as N-Prairies resulted in considerably higher protein levels for the first cut (12.9%)”, specifies Labrie. Applying nitrogen after the cut also had a positive effect. “Yields were double those for plots that had not been fertilized after the first cut.”
This study, which was carried out at La Pocatière, also demonstrated that the additional income generated following proper nitrogen fertilization makes this a worthwhile investment.
According to Labrie, the most profitable fertilization method involves applying urea in the spring and after the first cut. This is where the N-Prairies concept shows its full value: it’s good for the wallet, for yields and for forage quality. Even when Mother Nature is acting out.
No risk of upsetting the phosphorus balance
The N-Prairies summer formulations for grasses and pulses do not contain phosphorus. “Farmers needn’t worry,” indicates Labrie. “They will not upset the phosphorus balance and put their farm at risk.”
Needless to say, fertilizers must be applied within the boundaries specified in the Nutrient management plan.
About our specialist advisor
François Labrie is a member of the Ordre des agronomes, and an agri-advisor at Sollio Agriculture.
For additional information, contact your agri-advisor.