Harvest on hold but time for a tour of Southern Ireland

With nothing harvested and fusarium rampant in wheat, though sorely tempted, I will not forecast a disaster just yet. Instead I will review the best farming trip ever to Southern Ireland.

First stop was the Boortmalt plant in Athy where they produce 200,000t of malt, all from local grain, sold to produce all things beautiful such as Guinness and Bushmills whiskey.

We moved to Enniscorthy, County Wexford, to visit Walter Furlong’s enterprise, managed by fellow Farmer Focus writer Philip Reck.

They buy, dry, store and market up to 70,000t of combinable crops each year as well as growing over 1,000ha of their own. The attention to detail, professionalism, and determination to succeed were the best any of us had ever witnessed. They also blend and supply top quality fertiliser.

After dinner we enjoyed some of the liquid fruits of their labour and next morning went to visit malting barley grower Art Murphy. This man knows his crops.

His 2011 average spring barley yield was over 10t/ha at 20% moisture across 750ha. Nothing fancy in the yard, just well maintained gear. But his feel for crops and how to get the best from them was fascinating. Care of establishment, where yield potential is set, and the nurturing of the growing plant, are carried out with unbelievable care. No stockman ever took more pride in a prize bull. Art has been doing this for 45 years and will always be miles ahead.

My next article will tell it as it is in our area. Currently I am pessimistic.

Allan Chambers farms 270ha of medium stony loam at Tullynaskeagh Farm, Tullynaskeagh, Co Down, with brother David growing cereals, grass for haylage and maize

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