The Irish Farmers Journal visited Shaun Diver, Tullamore Farm manager and Footprint Farmer, on 28 May to get the latest on the crops planted on the farm.

On 20 April, 1.6ha of combi-crop was sown at a seeding rate of 70kg/ha to qualify for the Protein Aid Scheme, which should pay approximately €200/ha to €250/ha.

The cattle grazed out the field before it was sprayed off with glyphosate 10 days before ploughing and the combi-crop was sown with the one-pass.

The ploughing and preparation of the soil was carried out by Shaun and the team on Tullamore Farm and a local contractor sowed the crop.

The decision was made to grow the crop to try to make high-protein silage and reduce the cost of meal being fed to the weanlings. The field was chosen because not only does it have a sandy clay with a free-draining soil, but there were also serious issues with docks in the field.

Shaun felt that the spraying required to plant the combi-crop and spraying the field before reseeding could help to get rid of the docks in the field.

There is very little nitrogen required for the combi-crop, however. Two bags of 10-10-20 were spread at sowing and a further one bag of 0-7-30 was spread to increase the P and K indexes of the soil.

The combi-crop will receive a fungicide spray of Elatus Era in the coming days to prevent disease. However, due to the mix of peas and cereals, no suitable herbicide or growth regulation products are available.

Soil results for combi-crop field

  • pH: 5.90.
  • P: Index 1.
  • K: Index 1.
  • Shaun is planning to cut the crop in late July and make bales. So it will be cut before it starts to ripen, ideally when the grain is cheesy.

    The bales will be used to feed weanlings as Shaun expects there will be a high protein content of approximately 18% from the crop. The use of the combi-crop will allow for a reduction in the use of meal in the weanlings’ diet.

    Combi-crop mix

  • Spring oats: 12.5kg.
  • Spring barley: 12.5kg.
  • Forage seed peas: 25kg.
  • Seeding rate: 70kg/ha.
  • Protein/cereal mix crop scheme

    The Department has projected a protein payment rate of €500/ha for 2024, assuming a total area of 14,000ha. However, this payment rate may be lower due to potential increases in the area planted and no assurance of a budget increase. The highest possible payment rate for 2024 is capped at €600/ha.

    This combi-crop qualifies for the 50/50 Protein/Cereal Mix Crop Scheme.

    The seed mix must consist of protein crop seed for at least 50% of the sowing rate. Beans, peas and lupins are acceptable protein crops for the seed mix, whereas wheat, oats, barley are acceptable cereals, which can make up the remaining 50% of the mix.

    A 3m uncultivated buffer is required

    beside a watercourse. More than 3m was left uncultivated in this case.

    Clodiagh river margin

    The 3m margin alongside the Clodiagh river (left of photo) is just one of many the sustainability measures carried out on the farm. This buffer strip is to prevent nutrients and pesticides from entering water.

    Red clover

    The grass and red clover field on the farm is ready for mowing. However, Shaun expressed his disappointment as the red clover is no longer in the sward.

    Red clover silage crops are showing poor performance this year.

    No nitrogen was applied to the field as the red clover fixes nitrogen in the soil, making it available for utilisation by the grass. Shaun now expects a poor return of silage because of the reduced number of red clover plants.

    If the red clover was more present in the swards the silage should have higher feeding value than grass silage, leading to greater animal intake and increased liveweight gain.

    Tullamore Farm open day

    The Irish Farmers Journal is to open the gates for the Tullamore Farm open day on Tuesday 23 July.

    Workshops, farm tours and demonstrations will be held throughout the day. More details to follow over the coming weeks.