It’s not pleasant being a tillage farmer in Ireland this year. As harvest approaches, water-logged fields and the prospect of low grain prices do not fill one with optimism.
Tillage farmers only have one pay day in the year, unlike us dairy farmers, who get our cheque every month. It may not be as big as we’d like, but at least we have a relatively good cash-flow.
Despite a lot of rain, grazing conditions are good, with good utilisation and growth rates. This has allowed us to take out surplus grass for silage, helping us fill up our winter requirements. We still have to make our second-cut silage and hope to have this cut early August.
It’s important to cut at this time, as we need to get this area back into the grazing block by the first week of September. This will extend our grazing round to 30 days enabling us to build grass for grazing into the autumn.
The 53 acres we leased this year will enable us to keep most of the heifers off the home block and this will keep our stocking rate low at three cows a hectare. This will allow us to get more grass into the cows as we go through the autumn, unlike last year when our grass covers went too low too fast.
Our winter crops are growing well in this moist, warm weather and the kale sown in early June is looking well. This was sown with a one-pass system after the grass had been burned off. It’s so important to get a good burn off, a difficult thing to achieve this year, as it gives the new kale plant a great start with less competition from weeds.