We’re just gone over the 40mm of rain mark for September, which is a game-changer for both grass growth and water supply on the farm here and on farms right across the southeast.
This rain is very welcome, even if it’s a few weeks late for some, but the worry now is that it might not know when to stop.
We look to have another 40mm of rain forecast for the next week and this will move us very quickly from summer to autumn conditions, with roadways and field gaps coming under pressure as we progress through the month.
It seems to always be a feast or a famine with the weather lately.
We will wait a few more days before going with the last round of fertiliser for 2022.
There should be plenty of residual nitrogen available to the plant for the initial burst of growth after the dry spell and we’ve seen nitrates poisoning before from going in too quickly with fertiliser after a drought.
We will finish up with 20 units of protected urea on most of the ground with a similar rate of a compound on the rest to use up all the stocks in the yard.
We have cut our fertiliser usage by about 40% this year in total.
Price was an obvious factor in this decision as well as deciding to lean on the clover that we have been building up in our swards over the last few years. The drought meant we had to skip maybe one more application than planned and skewed the figures but we will continue to increase the clover content steadily over the next few years and test the boundaries a bit on how low we can go with fertiliser usage.
There was a very strong message from the future farm open day in Johnstown Castle last week that we can and should be moving in the direction of more clover or multispecies swards (MSS) and less artificial nitrogen as quickly as possible.
Other key steps along the journey to a 25% cut in emissions, include low emission slurry spreading, using additives or separation to reduce ammonia losses from slurry storage and hopefully developing new technologies to reduce methane emissions from livestock.
Unfortunately, the challenges on the environmental front are coming at us very hard and fast, in some cases faster than the solutions or technology can be developed.
Teagasc has a huge amount of work to do to try to bridge this gap and farmers have a lot of learning and implementing to do over the same period of time. There was a huge crowd in attendance at the open day which shows that farmers are very hungry for information. More importantly, interaction between farmers and researchers was excellent which should help both farmers and researchers to better understand and overcome the challenges ahead.
On farm we have a lot of decisions to make this month. We locked in a good portion of our fertiliser supply for next spring after sitting on the fence for the last month.
We might go a bit further than that if the news continues to deteriorate in eastern Europe.
A few low yielders have been pulled out and dried off this week
We will soil-test most of the farm again this autumn and try to keep soil fertility as optimum as possible through next year.
We will oversow and reseed with clover and MSS next spring so we need to have the soil in peak condition for this to be successful.
In the short term on farm we will move from feeding 5kg of meal to the cows, towards 3kg this week and see how grass supply looks at that stage.
We will also start to look at the cull cows a bit more.
A few low yielders have been pulled out and dried off this week. We might mark a few more for once-a-day milking for the next month and see if we can get the best of both worlds, availing of the high milk price while putting on some extra weight before sale.
We also had the announcement of a new identity for our milk processor.
Tirlán as a brand is maybe a little underwhelming for the moment but hopefully it will grow on all of us.
The “T” is crossed at least whatever about the fada on the “I”. But maybe a more worrying omission is the word co-op from the branding of the new entity.
Presumably, we still identify as a co-op but why not get that message out there with the launch of the new name?