Grass growth: August is a crucial month for grass growth.

If growth rates are behind target you have no choice but to feed bales, zero graze or feed more meal to try and slow up the farm.

It’s critical you get grass growing now while the opportunity is there.

Soil moisture is no longer limiting but get grass growing now when day length is good and the grass plant is still soaking up what heat and daylight is still there.

On heavy soils, average farm cover should not go above 900kg DM/ha, as grazing heavy covers can be very difficult on these farms once the weather conditions start to deteriorate.

Take for example farms stocked at 2.5 LU/ha (or one cow per acre). At the moment, the target cover per livestock unit is 180kg DM/LU on a 21-day rotation. By 15 August, the target will be to have a C/LU of 200kg DM/LU and extend the rotation length to 25 days. By mid-September, the grass supply should be peaking at 400-450kg DM/LU and an average farm cover of 1,000 to 1,100kg DM/ha on a rotation length of 35 days.

New farm investments: The message is clear from the milking equipment focus – go and see new parlours and new housing before you turn a sod or apply for planning permission. Think long-term and think about the next step down the line. The one piece that has changed in terms of investment this week is on slurry storage.

If the proposals remain as they are from the Department, some farms are going to need a lot more slurry storage. Soiled water is going to have to be contained. For those milking in the winter this will be significant. Some farmers were short before these new rules were proposed – the Department estimates maybe 40% of dairy farmers.

This cohort will need a lot more slurry storage. This is a big investment but absolutely necessary if you are short. The excuses for not having enough slurry storage are almost not allowed anymore.

Milking equipment: There is a real need to invest in milking equipment on many farms. It is a clear sustainability issue that affects farm workers and makes the dairy farm work in terms of lifestyle balance. Any move to take grant aid away from dairy farmers would be a serious retrograde step after the publication of a report on all the extra workers needed in the industry not that long ago.

Have your say: The Department is asking for your thoughts on the nitrates plans and on CAP. Take it on yourself to respond but first you need to get your head around the detail and what it means for your farm.

Do your sums on slurry storage and what impact the reduced bag nitrogen will mean for your farm. Do your sums on what changes the new CAP will mean for your single farm payment. High entitlement owners look set to lose out significantly and this could affect banking facilities for some.