SweetGrass, is a range of grassland fertilisers containing sodium, specifically designed to increase animal performance from grass.
High in N, SweetGrass increases sward palatability and maximise milk and meat production from grass for optimum economic return.
The key to maximising Dry Matter Intake is highly palatable grass that encourages longer grazing time, higher bite rates and better utilisation of forage. Although sward composition, length of ley and soil fertility all impact on palatability, applying sodium to grass is the simplest and most economic method of ensuring optimum palatability.
Why use SweetGrass?
- Palatability is key to optimum grass utilisation
- Sweet-Grass improves palatability
- Improved palatability = increased intake
- Improved palatability = tighter grazing
- Increased intake and tighter grazing = optimum grass utilisation
- Improving palatability is particularly beneficial when grass becomes less digestible or following slurry application which can ‘sour’ pastures
ROBERT FLEMING AT AGRII’S FORAGE IFARM,
SOUTH MILTON, STRANRAER, JUNE 2016
Agrii conducted a ‘live’ grazing demonstration on sodium with our Forage iFarm partner, Robert Fleming in June 2016.
Ammonium nitrate and SweetGrass were applied to the right and left-hand side of the field respectively. After an hour all the cows and calves were grazing on the SweetGrass side of the field due to the higher levels of palatability, as can be seen in the image below.
Sodium – an essential nutrient for livestock
Sodium is an essential nutrient for livestock health and performance.
Sodium deficiency can lead to potentially serious clinical disorders and production losses, including:
x Loss of appetite and reduced dry matter intake (DMI)
x Reduced milk yield
x Increased somatic cell count
x Increased risk of hypomagnesaemia (grass staggers)
The benefits of Sodium for grass
Although grass does not need sodium, its uptake produces significant benefits, including:
- Higher % of live herbage
- Higher D values
- Increased sugar content
- Better utilisation of awards
- Improved palatability and digestibility
Extensive trials by the University of Bangor have shown that sodium can increase grass quality and animal performance. Sodium increases the sugar content of grass making it
sweeter and more palatable, and it also stimulates saliva production which increases appetite. This combination of higher palatability and increased appetite ensure higher DMI and improvements in animal output. The table below shows the Bangor data.
Applying agricultural salt – which contains 50% sodium – creates additional work and is not particularly efficient as sodium is not tightly held in the soil. Ideally, sodium should be applied little and often – 10kg/ha for each grazing cycle – to ensure maximum availability and uptake.
SweetGrass contains a high-quality granular sodium that is compatible with other nutrients, which allows it to be applied within the standard fertiliser programme without any additional work.
SweetGrass can be applied throughout the grazing season at 125-250kg/ha to provide optimum inputs of sodium along with nitrogen and sulphur.
Additional micronutrients, e.g. selenium, cobalt and copper, can also be added on request