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Cut and Carry – Hay for arable fields

Farms that have given up cattle farming but still own meadows may utilize the hay as an organic fertilizer for their fields. This form of cut and carry was tested in Upper Austria. Once a year, one cut of the meadows of our project partner was transferred to his fields.

The extensive grassland was mown according to a well-thought-out scheme. The area to be mown was always coordinated with a freshly harvested field. The hay was worked into the soil before sowing a cover crop.

A comparison of the soil analysis results from 2021 with the analysis data from 2008, before the start of the cut-and-carry cultivation, showed that the soil organic matter content of the soil increased by 0.5-0.6 % compared to the previous form of management as an organic dairy farm.

To transfer 1,000 kg of carbon to the receiving field, a total of 99 kg of CO2e emissions were generated, caused by the machinery and transport processes.

For 1 kg N, the cost amounts to 5.46 €, makes this form of fertilisation notably cheaper than comparable commercial organic fertilisers priced at about 7 € per kg N, especially if the fertiliser value of 1.5 kg K2O (2.0 € per kg) and 0.4 kg P2O5 (3.85 € per kg) are also taken into account.