Parched pastures and potassium

Red clover

Gorgeous feed like this can be more water use efficient with potassium

Despite the last few days of searing heat, we still have some nice pasture on hand. It won’t last forever but I am hoping that we can make the spring pastures stretch longer into summer with some judicious fertiliser choices.

I’ve bitten the bullet this year and invested in soil testing for each and every paddock on the farm. It’s shown that our fertiliser regime is working but we still have a way to go in some cases. The main issues we must address are potassium and pH.

Potassium (K) allows plants to use water more efficiently, making them more resilient to both waterlogging and drought. Some of our paddocks only have half the potassium levels they should, especially the rises that dry off first, so I’m hoping that regular applications of potash will allow us to make much better use of those paddocks.

Unfortunately, potassium is readily leached from the soil, so even my extra doses (70kg of MOP behind the cows throughout autumn/winter/spring) simply maintained rather than make a significant improvement in K levels last year.

For a neat technical explanation of the role of potassium in agriculture, see this: Potassium in Agriculture.

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