Farmer Focus:Tim Downes appreciates just how dry it’s been

A recent farm visit by a group of dairy farmers from Omagh made me appreciate just how dry and dusty it is compared with their non-summer.


Trekking to see the cows grazing with solid ground conditions, the comments ranged from “you lucky…” to, “the cows would be up to their bellies with us.”


Our TB status is improving slowly, with one less animal in isolation as an inconclusive reactor. However, this morning we received a letter asking for the compulsory slaughter of one animal who has been inconclusive before.


At the British Grassland Society research conference I heard some great papers on synergies between production and environment, covering topics including crossbreeding, out-wintering and future phosphorus shortages. Apparently they will run out within 100 years unless we can encourage mychorrizal fungi to access phosphorus.


This is the same principle of mutualism that enables us to farm organically through nitrogen fixation in leguminous plants. The conference was topped off by a talk by Mark Shepherd from New Zealand looking at water quality and their novel approach to reduce levels of phosphates and nitrates by preferring a non-prescriptive method.


Dad has been busy cultivating stubbles with a Terra disc, the winged blades slice the crown from the root helping control docks. The ideal dry weather conditions may allow us to also pick off some of the growing crowns.


Harper Adams was the scene for our Principal’s farewell party dubbed “Gone With The Wynne.” We wish David Llewellyn every success as he takes the college forward.

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