FARMER FOCUS: Maize thrives but grass suffers

What a change a few weeks can make in farming. One of the advantages of having light, free draining soils here in the Ard’s Pennisula is that we can get on to land early and are able to grow maize without the need for plastic. However, one of the big disadvantages is when we get a prolonged warm dry spell we get into drought-like conditions.

Grass growth has slowed down, but thankfully we have some second cut aftermaths that are nearly ready for grazing and these should help keep grass in front of the low yielders. On the plus side the maize is flying and should end up a bumper crop. The only downside is we reduced the area of maize this year, seems like not such a good idea now. We took our first cut off the lucerne on the 8 July, left it for four days and then big square baled it to make haylage. It averaged 17 bales/ha and should let us get another two cuts off it this year.

Away from the farm I enjoyed a visit to Livestock 2013 at the NEC last month. Flying over early that morning was very straight forward and within 15 minutes I was at the show. Even coming from Northern Ireland I was there faster than some people that had traveled a distance by car. It was good to see and feel a positive vibe from most involved in the milk industry. This event provides an opportunity to showcase all that is available to help livestock farmers improve and progress their businesses. It also was nice to meet some fellow Farmer Focus writers and members from Twitter #Teamdairy.

In association with the RABDF and NMR we are holding an open discussion and farm walk on the 21 August. The title, Investing in the Future of the Business and Industry, has been chosen as the theme of the day with several speakers covering key areas of the business. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to dairy farmers from Northern/ Southern Ireland and even the UK. Its looking like the power hose will be busy.

Thomas Steele milks 450 Holstein Friesian cows on a 263ha farm in Co Down, Northern Ireland. He was 2012 Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year

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