Farmer Focus: Slurry seems to work on 7.5t/ha barley crop

I’m just finishing writing this article before heading to Lanarkshire for the Jersey Cattle Society annual general meeting.

Because of Covid, it’s the first time we’ve been able to attend in person since we made the breed swap, so it’s great that the meeting is in Scotland.

It will be a good opportunity to put faces to names at long last. Hosting this year is Jon McCosh of Kingsbeck Jerseys. Jon has been a great support to us and encouraged us down the Jersey route.

See also: How and why to move milk away from the cow efficiently

About the author

Colin Murdoch
Ayrshire farmer and zero grazer Colin Murdoch switched from Holsteins to milking 225 Jerseys in 2019. The 182ha farm grows 40ha of winter and spring barley for a total mixed ration and parlour fed system supplying Graham’s Family Dairy.
Read more articles by Colin Murdoch

Who would have thought that almost 20 years ago (hard to believe, I know), studying land management together at Cirencester, we’d end up both milking little brown cows?

Apparently, there has been a heatwave. We had one day of it the other Monday.

Winter barley harvest was completed last week and we somehow managed to avoid all the showers to get straw baled up in good order, too.

Having had no artificial phosphate and potassium and less nitrogen, yields are still over 7.5t/ha (3.03t/acre). I’m not sure if the slurry acted as a slow-release nutrient, but I’d certainly be tempted to apply it again next spring if conditions allow.

Thoughts turn now to reseeding, so more slurry and dung will be applied. Then we will subsoil before ploughing. With the cost of fuel, it’s not going to be a cheap operation, but it’s important to keep grass young.

The mixture will be late maturing to ensure plenty of leaf and less stalk for the zero grazer. We’ve discovered that quick-growing, open swards of ryegrass are of no use.

We’re looking forward to welcoming family and friends from all over to celebrate the golden wedding of Mum and Dad, Jim and Sheena, this weekend.

To those wondering, it’s definitely Mum that deserves the medal.

A lot has changed in the 50 years since they got married.

From milking 60 cows in a byre to building new sheds and buying more land, I’ve certainly a lot to be thankful to them for.

I wonder where farming will be in another 50 years – can the pace of change we’ve seen in the past half-century be maintained?