Sodium Tech Talk June 2023

The importance of Sodium

Summer Salt’ to alleviate drought

The warm dry spell is creating challenges in growing grass and managing livestock. Sodium fertiliser can help alleviate the impact of drought in both grass and livestock.

How does Sodium help the challenges of grazing during drought?

During drought, the uptake of potassium increases to alleviate drought, however high potassium can increase the risk of hypomagnesaemia. Because Sodium regulates K: Mg and K:NA ratios it can help alleviate drought stress and reduce the risk of hypomagnesaemia. Recent observations reported by AHDB of livestock licking stones and roads – called Pica – can be an indicator of sodium deficiency. However, because Sodium is readily taken by the grass it can reduce deficiency and the risk of Pica. During a drought, grass is also less digestible as it matures into the fibrous, stemmy stage which reduces palatability and dry matter intake. However, Sodium increases the % of live herbage, digestibility and sugars by X which increase palatability and DM intake.  Supplementation, with concentrates to off-set reduced DM intake, can increase the risk of acidosis. Because Sodium helps buffer rumen pH, it can also reduce the risk of acidosis.

Should I apply fertiliser during drought?

Farmers should apply Nitrogen, as nitrates or protected urea at 25-30kg/ha, Sulphur is essential to maximise N uptake and protein formation and should be applied at 5-6kg/ha and Sodium, which will help alleviate drought stress in both grass and livestock at 5-6kg/ha.

Should I apply fertiliser during drought?

The soil moisture deficit in many parts of the country is now >50mm which is limiting grass growth. Where grass is green, there is scope to apply small amounts of fertiliser and see a growth in response. Heavy overnight dews, can deposit 0.5mm moisture which is sufficient to start dissolving fertiliser granules, as shown in the below saucer of fertiliser left overnight in a grass cover of 1,300kg DM/ha

Need more detail?

Contact your Origin Fertiliser merchant or us directly by completing the form.