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Will Taylor

14 June 1996

Will Taylor

"WHEN the seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think the sardines are being thrown into the sea"

Eric Cantonas epic lines on the power and grace of seagulls, which presumably inspire him at Old Trafford, have also had an effect at Glastry Farm. Let me explain.

At this side of the snow-line, just south of the igloos and reindeer, we have had a bit of a problem with maize. After four years experience, the quantity of the crop is no problem, consistently 18-20t fresh weight. Last year gave us a glimpse of what 30% dry matter well-ripened cobs could deliver in terms of milk. So we have been exploring ways of improving the quality of the crop to achieve consistency.

Agricultural Technology division at Greenmount have given help with a trial using plastic film. The theory is excellent. The use of plastic gives quicker germination and faster growth early in the season as soil temperature is raised by about 3C. It also increases dry matter yields with increased grain content as well as giving a potentially earlier harvest than conventionally sown crops. This would give us the opportunity to sow forage rye as a catch crop.

The maize was drilled on May 6 by our contractor Roy Townley, on a near perfect seed-bed. We used 40,000 seed/acre and the varieties Hudson and Molady. Fertiliser use was 30 N, 110 P and 170K. Normally our maize area would receive a lot of cow slurry, but this year we have moved to a new site which was ploughed at the beginning of November out of grass. We felt that the disadvantage of soil compaction ruled out the cost advantage of the slurry, hence the higher than normal fertiliser usage. Weed control was 3 litres/ha of Atrazine incorporated into the seed-bed.

Everything seemed to be going according to the great master plan. Eugene McBride made a great job of laying the plastic and we sat back to await results.

Then Cantonas seagulls arrived! From all over Ireland they came, Gallic ones as well (they were wearing berets). Their attraction appeared to be the landing strips of plastic and to let us know they had landed unsuccessfully they pecked holes obligingly in the plastic.

Emergency measures were adopted. Cynthia delivered kung-fu kicks at the offenders (I couldnt lift my legs that high) who may have been Crystal Palace fans. Anyway, we now have a trial using perforated plastic, which I will report on in due course. &#42

Growing maize under plastic may help Will Taylor and his son Gareth make better maize silage – but only if they can keep the seagulls at bay.

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Will Taylor

26 January 1996

Will Taylor

AS another year dawns, Ive been struck down by the phenomena known as heavy metal disease. Its a condition that affects some farmers more seriously than others. The symptoms are predictable.

Black smoke comes from a tried and trusted friend with unusual clanking and rasping noises as the workload increases. These are initial warning signals followed by the more chronic condition, complete silence from the machine and a lot of noise from the owner.

The acute condition of the disease is now imminent. Well-dressed machinery salesmen with glossy brochures on machines that would solve our predicament, followed by clasping of headgear to chest, a shaking of the head and in low tones the mention of the breakers-yard for my tired and previously trusted friend.

The shaky pen poised over an open cheque-book is final proof the disease is in a terminal state.

My condition has been brought about by the fact that our 100 HP Case 1594 is now 10-years-old and until recently has been completely reliable and certainly adequate. However, when I am told the list price of a replacement, I go wobbly about the knees. Then when Im quoted the price of a straight deal I suddenly realize that they are literally taking away my tired friend in the name of progress.

Purchase of a new 1850 gallon tanker in 1995 with a slugigator attachment to cover damper areas of fields, previously either tracked in an effort to get slurry on at the optimum time, or missed completely, has increased our HP requirements.

While the quest for higher dry-matter silage has forced us to take-over the mowing of grass previously done by contractor, plus the addition of a tedding operation to the system with an 8.5m Niemeyer tedder has put an extra burden on the farms tractor "fleet".

After all this expense Im reminded of the words of Logan Smith. "There are two things to aim for in life; first to get what you want and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second." &#42

Will Taylors 10-year-old tractor is no longer reliable and although the cost of a replacement will be high he has his cheque book at the ready.

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Will Taylor

16 June 1995

Will Taylor

Will Taylor runs 140 pedigree Holstein Friesians and 70 followers on his 88ha (217-acre) all-grass farm near Kircubbin, Co Down, Northern Ireland. He also finishes 40 head of bull beef.

WILL Taylor: "Its marvellous being able to encourage the feel good factor out here, but I would like to ask you some questions on our grassland management during the season. Perhaps first of all you could reassure the readers of your qualifications and background."

Jill: "Well I think I could be described as a canine over-achiever, but still a dog with my paws firmly on the ground and really no one in the world other than Diego Maradonna knows more about grass than I do."

WT: "Good. How has grazing management gone so far?"

Jill: "Hey, give me another wee dram. Thanks, now since turnout on Apr 3, grass use has been superb. We were grazing swards down to 1500-1600kg DM consistently. Unfortunately regrowth was slow due to the extremely cold weather and we took in some silage area at the beginning of May to buffer feed the cows, until the second grazing cycle was ready on May 8."

WT: "What sort of stocking rate are you achieving so far?"

Jill: "Up to mid-May we were stocked at 2.6 cows a hectare, but the grazing rotation has come down to a 21-day cycle which I would hope we could maintain to mid-July. Fill my glass please, Will."

WT: "How has silage-making fitted into the system?"

Jill: "We harvested 60% of the grassland acreage for first cut. Mowing started on May 9. Weve given up trying to wilt by neglect, or leaving 10ft swards for 36-48 hours. This looked well in that the top one inch usually achieved 30% DM, but the rest of the sward remained pretty much as it was cut with considerable yellowing and deterioration."

WT: "Whats the new plan?"

Jill: "Were going for a rapid wilt. After mowing we moved in with a Niemeyer three-row tedder and some 12-18 hours later we gave it a second tedding, then rowing with a Krone 9m rower and lifting. Each tedding lifted DM by 8%, and grass samples at ensiling averaged 35%."

WT: "Could you explain the interaction between cultivators of perennial ryegrass and white clovers on the digestive process of high-yielding dairy cows?"

Jill: "SNzzzzz"

WT: "You stupid dog, this is a P45 affair. Ive warned you several times about drinking and driving cows." &#42

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