Pasture responses to nitrogen in autumn are often less than responses in spring due to low soil moisture and high soil nitrogen, both as a consequence of the dry summer.

Nitrogen fertiliser can be applied when the pasture is actively growing to assist in filling feed gaps, but the potential response should always be compared to the cost of buying the same feed.

In this short video, University of Melbourne nitrogen expert Professor Richard Eckard explains pasture response to nitrogen in autumn.

Maximising spring feed with nitrogen

When hay and grain prices are high, nitrogen can be a cost-effective way to generate additional feed. The cost of nitrogen-grown grass will depend on the cost of urea, the response rate and the utilisation, or how much of the extra growth is wasted.

When purchased feed prices are high, below-average response rates to nitrogen will be profitable.

Pasture conservation

Farmers are recommended to apply nitrogen at a higher rate (up to 60 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare in later spring), after grazing when pasture is locked up for conservation.

Results from using split applications of nitrogen – such as after grazing and again partway through regrowth – are more variable and this practice is not recommended.

In this short video, farm consultant Matt Harms talks to nitrogen expert Professor Richard Eckard about how to use nitrogen to maximise feed.

Dairying for Tomorrow website

More information on nitrogen fertiliser use is available on the Dairying for Tomorrow website.

The More Profit from Nitrogen project is supported by funding from Dairy Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.


Dairy Australia's Maximising spring feed with nitrogen fact sheet contains a number of key messages.

Also available is a Nitrogen in autumn fact sheet.

  • maximising spring feed with nitrogen factsheet

    PDF118.51 KB
  • Fertsmart nitrogen factsheet

    PDF731.84 KB

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