Irish Grassland Association (IGA) summer dairy tours normally involve visiting two farms relatively close together.

This year’s event was held on two farms that are 300km apart.

Such is the power of technology that the event was live-streamed from the O’Sullivan farm in Rosscarbery, west Cork, and the Moran farm in Caherlistrane, Co Galway, at the same time on Wednesday.

The focus on both farms was on clover establishment and management.

Moran farm

Kevin Moran is relatively new on the clover journey, having started to establish clover properly in 2020.

He is milking 270 cows and is stocked at 2.89 cows/ha on the milking platform and grew 15.6t DM/ha last year from 219kg nitrogen/ha.

He is including clover in the reseeding programme, but also oversowing clover to get the percentages of clover up.

His long-term goal is to grow similar tonnages of grass as he is now, but with less nitrogen (N).

Biggest lesson

His biggest lesson to date was around the timing of oversowing and the area to be done at one time.

Last year, he oversowed over 30% of the farm in one go in July. He says this was far too much area to be done at once and was also too late in the year.

“From now on, I’ll only oversow in April or May. I’ll do no more than 10% or 12% of the farm at any one time, so it’ll be easier to manage it after sowing," he said.

"I’ll spread watery slurry or gran-lime on it and graze at low covers three, four or five times before moving on to do another part of the farm.”

He says establishing clover is going to become an annual expense on his farm.

It is more unforgiving than fertiliser in terms of management

“Even when I get clover established on all of the farm, it’ll still be an ongoing cost to keep it there. I see it as part of fertiliser costs.

"It is more unforgiving than fertiliser in terms of management, but it’s a big part of where we need to go,” Kevin says.

O'Sullivan farm

John Joe and Andrew O’Sullivan are further down the road when it comes to clover, with John Joe utilising clover all through his farming career.

Excellent clover established on the O'Sullivan farm in Rosscarbery.

They are milking just under 70 cows with a stocking rate of 2.35 cows/ha. All the farm is one block and the youngstock are reared on the farm too.

John Joe O'Sullivan speaking to Mark Treacy at the Irish Grassland Association event.

Fertiliser use is low at 151kg N/ha last year. John Joe says that about 30% of the farm is at optimum levels for clover, with over 25% clover in the sward.

Other parts of the farm have less clover, but has some clover all the same.

They are primarily oversowing clover on these parts of the farm in April and May, with 1.5kg/acre of unpelleted clover spread using the quad and spinner.

See more in next weeks’ Irish Farmers Journal. The event can be watched back at the IGA website.