With the weather improving over the past week, silage is now in full swing across many parts of the country.
However, the poor weather and growing conditions experienced in May resulted in a delayed first-cut in many areas, especially in the southern region.
This delay has now left contractors under immense pressure as the season finally gets under way.
The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) said it was seeking support from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and farm organisations in its appeal for the calming down of the pressure being placed on many of the country’s silage contractors.
The FCI estimated that less than 10% of first-cut grass had been harvested by the last week of May, compared with 90% in the same period last year.
This has resulted in a substantial backlog of work to be completed, placing both farmers and contractors under severe pressure.
The firm said it has received numerous phone calls from contractors who are being put under duress by their farmer clients in an “effort to do the impossible, that is, to harvest grass in conditions that are unsuitable, unsafe and ultimately will lead to poor-quality animal feed for the housing period of winter 2021”.
“The current frenzy to get first-cut grass silage harvested, driven by weather-induced delays to the harvesting that are evident on many farms, is unprecedented by our FCI members,” said FCI chief executive Michael Moroney.
“Many silage contractors have not experienced this level of constant pressure from their farmer clients in the past, as, understandably, each farmer’s priority is their own silage,” he added.
Analysis carried out by the FCI has shown that wet grass harvesting will increase the volume of grass to be harvested as measured in tonnes per hectare or trailer loads per hectare.
“One early example of this is the measured fuel usage on a 25ha (60 acre) area which was 2,400 litres last week, a 40% increase in fuel usage over the same area in 2020,” Moroney stated.
The association said that health and safety is an equally important issue. Heavy and wet grass is more difficult to manage and therefore prone to slippage once ensiled.
Contractors are faced with no other option than to work longer hours to try to deal with the backlog of work.
The FCI concluded by assuring farmers that their silage will get cut, but to co-operate with contractors by remaining calm and bearing safety in mind.
That said, the recent dry spell has allowed progress to be made, with first cut now well under way across the country.