Productive and high quality forage underpins stocking rates, conception rates, calf production, rate of gain and more. No other input has a more direct effect on cattle nutrition and performance.

Weather in recent years has taken a toll on pasture and hay meadows. Droughty weather has reduced both forage yield and quality in many locations. Extreme cold and repeated freeze/thaw cycles this winter may also thin stands. This comes at a time when cattle producers are looking to expand their herds.

Fertility management of forages has a big effect on beef performance, according to Vanessa Corriher-Olson, assistant professor and forage extension specialist with Texas A & M, Overton, Tex. “When you apply nitrogen and get a rain, the grass practically jumps out of the ground. The amount of nitrogen in a pasture or hay meadow also directly impacts the crude protein content of the forage. Phosphorus and potassium are important, too. They impact water use efficiency, drought tolerance, disease resistance and nutrient use efficiency,” she says. “Having a good forage base is the first step to providing nutrients for healthy maintenance and growth of cattle.”

Research shows nitrogen can play a dramatic role in enhancing forage quality and tonnage, but it can be subject to environmental loss. Cattle producers can protect the value of their nitrogen investment and strengthen their forage nutrition programs with NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager. NutriSphere-N reduces nitrogen loss from volatilization, denitrification and leaching. It keeps more nitrogen in the readily-available ammonium form for plants.

“Any surface application of a fertilizer with urea or liquid UAN has the potential for significant losses from volatilization. In addition, nitrogen is subject to further loss on sandy soil from leaching or on heavier soils from denitrification,” explains Barney Gordon, professor emeritus Kansas State University. “When we tested NutriSphere-N treated urea and UAN on bromegrass, we significantly increased both the yield and quality of the forage by keeping more nitrogen available for the crop. If you lose nitrogen, both forage yield and quality suffer.”

Reggie Underwood, SFP’s national sales manager, says NutriSphere-N protects applied nitrogen fertilizer in pastures and hay meadows. More nitrogen available for plant uptake enhances rhizome and root growth, stimulates more rapid regrowth, improves crude protein content and extends stand longevity. “Producers use NutriSphere-N to protect early spring nitrogen applications from weather events and they use it in weed and feed programs to protect nitrogen from volatilization until a rain occurs to move the nitrogen into the soil,” he says.

Corriher-Olson recommends producers start with a soil sample to determine nutrient needs. “Nitrogen can be applied at the beginning of the season and between cuttings or grazing to promote regrowth. It’s important to manage fertility and control weeds in forages every year because that creates a stand that can better withstand extreme weather conditions,” she says.  

For more information about NutriSphere-N, including the latest research, visit www.sfp.com.