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12 May 2015 10:14:42 |Agri Safety,Animal Health,Cattle,News,Shows and Events

Fertilisers to boost animal health and productivity


Livestock producers can now improve animal health and productivity by applying enriched fertilisers to their pasture, following the launch of two new products at Grassland UK.
According to the British Geological Survey, about 90% of agricultural soils are deficient in selenium, which has a direct impact on selenium levels in grazed and ensiled forage. Rather than having to rely on expensive feed supplements, farmers can now apply selenium direct to their pasture, with Origin Fertiliser’s new Seleni-Start and Seleni-Grass fertilisers.
“Selenium deficiency has serious health implications,” says Peter Scott, Origin’s Technical Director.
“In cattle, symptoms include infertility, retained placenta, white muscle disease, poor live weight gain and a range of auto-immune disorders.”
Origin’s selenium fertilisers also include the usual nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur nutrients, and can be blended to any specification required by the farmer. “It is a cost-effective and simple solution as you’ll be spreading fertiliser anyway.”
As sponsor of Grassland UK, Origin tested the pasture at the event site, and treated it with Seleni-Start in early February and late March. “Initially, the grass contained just 0.1mg of selenium per kg of dry matter,” says Mr Scott. “By late March that had risen above 0.3mg – the minimum required level for animal health – and by early April it had reached 0.6mg.”
The selenium in the grass survives the ensiling process, so can be used to relieve deficiency in both grazing and housed stock and, at a cost of 2p per head per day, is a very cost-effective form of supplementation. “Seleni-Start is a urea based product ideally suited for early season use,” explains Mr Scott. “And Seleni-Grass is a nitrate based range for use through the rest of the growing season.”
The second new product launched at the event was Sweet Grass – a high nitrogen fertiliser containing sodium, which is proven to increase sward palatability and productivity from forage. “Bangor University published research many years ago which showed that adding sodium to fertiliser increases the D Value of grass and boosts dry matter intakes,” says Mr Scott.
Until now, the difficulty has been putting that into practice because of the caking nature of sodium. But Origin has been able to source salt in a form that is compatible with other nutrients, enabling sodium to be incorporated into high nitrogen fertilisers.
“Sodium is an essential nutrient for livestock health and performance, and the Bangor research showed that including it in grassland fertiliser boosted dry matter intakes by 18.6%,” says Mr Scott. “Grass sugar content increased by 9.9%, with milk yield rising by 9.3% and butterfat content by 15.6%.” An additional bonus is that somatic cell counts also reduced significantly.
“Sodium is not firmly held in soils, so a little and often approach to application is ideal,” he adds. “At a cost of around £1/acre, the return on sodium represents excellent value for money, helping farmers to maximise production from grass.”





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