Grassland farmers across the country will benefit from the increased functionality in the PastureBase Ireland (PBI) system for their farms.
PastureBase Ireland is Ireland’s national grassland database and provides daily updates on grass growth across the country for all farmers. The use of PBI has increased substantially in recent years with more than 2,500 grass cover been completed weekly at peak in the system.
With a major focus on improving the nitrogen use and management on farms, PBI has added a number of important tools to the system to assist farmers to better match nitrogen supply with grass demand.
Speaking about the new farm scale Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) calculator, Director of Research in Teagasc, Professor Frank O’Mara said, “all of the ruminant enterprises need to improve how and when they use nitrogen. The development of the NUE calculator will allow farmers calculate both their nitrogen surplus and farm efficiency. Knowledge of both parameters will set a benchmark for farmers to improve from”.
The Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) calculator measures how efficiently nitrogen in slurry, feed and fertiliser converts to milk and meat. The calculator will also determine the farm gate nitrogen surplus on the farm. Improving NUE and reducing nitrogen surplus will have large environmental benefits. Farmers will be able to benchmark their NUE and farm gate nitrogen surplus values with top performing farms as well as their peer farmers. A ‘Nitrogen Planner’, which give farmers monthly nitrogen recommendations, has been already developed in April 2021 and is very well received by the farmers using the system.
A new Farm Mapping tool was added in July, which allows farmers to map their farms to allow an easy way to profile grass supply, soil fertility and nitrogen applications. Farmers can also now add the closest weather station to their farm, and receive up to date weather data to their PBI accounts. This will allow better focused decisions around timing of nitrogen throughout the season.
Dr Michael O’Donovan, Head of Grassland Science in Teagasc, emphasised “the use of precision Nitrogen application strategies, taking cognisance of meteorological conditions will improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency substantially and reduce losses to the environment. This can only be done with live, up to date, knowledge of what’s happening on farms. PBI is now allowing farmers to use this technology.”
Teagasc now issues precision nitrogen management advice weekly through PBI which is based on predicted weekly grass growth information, using Met Eireann meteorological data which is turn will increase Nitrogen Use Efficiency on grassland farms throughout Ireland.
Over the past number of years, the use of the ‘PBI Grass’ offline app has increased substantially. Speaking in advance of the open day Mícheál O’Leary, PBI co-ordinator said, ”the ‘PBI Grass’ app has been a major success for PBI, with over half our users opting to use it. We have placed more and more functionality in the app and will continue to do so for the future”.
All grassland farms currently using PastureBase Ireland should download the app right now, from the different stores. The app is free to download. Grass covers, graze dates, fertiliser application, livestock number/intakes as well as milk data can be quickly recorded while undertaking the task in the paddock, whether mobile connectivity is poor or not available.