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In this edition, we look at drainage solutions, the importance of soils, grass growth, new systems, relief milking, investment and employment in the dairy industry. We chat to farmers from Kerry, Clare, Tyrone, Meath, Cork, Tipperary, Staffordshire and Nottingham.

Black and white pattern for profit: Kerry farmer John O'Sullivan is a strong believer in the Holstein Fresian breed and has been increasing the EBI of his herd for the last five years, with the aim of getting as much grass as possible into the diet to keep feed costs low.

A Keane eye for progress: Donal Keane's Kerry farm has heavy peat soils and is located near Lisselton, just outside Listowel. The wet September and October took their tool, but grazing continued.

Ryan flair: Tipperary farmer TJ Ryan talks about grabbing the opportunity when grazing conditions allow – with all stock out day and night.

The only way is up: because of its elevation, Con Lehane's Cork farm can be cold and wet, which has an effect on its drainage. There were two elements to the drainage plan – the first dealt with open drains at the field perimeter, while the other involved field drains.

Less stress Muir success: a desire to live in the English countryside and starting out as a dairy farmer led to Hames Muir giving up a promising career with a security firm in 2012.

Fresh thinking and new blood: Aidan Brennan visits the Farrell family farm in Kilmessan, Co.Meath, which is undergoing a system change and substantial expansion.

The Clune is in the title: focusing investment on productive assets has led to Clare farmer Francis Clune winning the Munster regional category in the 2017 Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards.

Pastures new: the 30-mile journey from East Midlands Airport in Derby, England, to Halem, Nottingham can best be described as dull and grey. You pass through a monotony of what appear to be soulless, industrial towns. This is middle England. But a change of colour greets you on arrival at the Sharman family farm.

Irish Dairy Farmer magazine – ORDER IT ONLINE HERE for €5.00 incl. P&P

KT farm improvement deadline extended
The deadline for submission of data for farm improvement plans has been extended to facilitate weather conditions.

A two-week extension to the date for submission of farm improvement plans in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Scheme has been granted. Farmers now have until 14 August to submit their plans. However, the 31 July deadline for holding meetings of KT groups remains in place.

Processing will begin on cases submitted by the original 31 July deadline in order to ensure that any impact on payment timelines is minimised, the Department has said.

“This extension has arisen on foot of concerns expressed in relation to the amount of resources currently being dedicated by advisory services to assisting farmers in dealing with the current weather conditions,” Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said.

Creed urged all participants in KT groups to submit their farm improvement plan data as soon as possible.

Read more

‘Every effort is being made’ – Creed on delays to partnership payments

Weekend weather: close and humid
The outlook from Met Éireann is for close and humid weather much of the time, but mixed. Some bright or sunny spells at times, but cloudy, misty, damp periods too.

The best of any sunshine will be over Ulster later on Friday. Top temperatures 17 to 21°C, best in parts of east Munster and south Leinster. Moderate southwest winds this morning will become northwesterly later.

Mild and misty Friday night with a mix of clear spells and cloudy periods. Some patches of drizzle in places early on, but generally dry.

Saturday

Largely dry and bright on Saturday. Some hazy sunshine, but cloudy periods too, especially so over parts of Ulster and Connacht, where some drizzle is likely later in the day in Atlantic coastal areas. Top temperatures 17 to 21°C, in just light to moderate southwesterly breezes.

Saturday night

Mild and misty overnight. Some patches of drizzle will develop along the northwest coast, but most other areas should be dry. Lowest temperatures 11 to 14°C in light variable or southwesterly breezes.

Sunday

Close and humid in light to moderate southwesterly breezes. Rather cloudy and misty generally, with scattered patches of drizzle and fog about. These mainly over Ulster and Connacht. But dry, bright spells will develop too, with some sunshine coming through at times. Highs of 18 to 20°C in many northern and western areas, but values in the low to mid-20s elsewhere, best of all in sunny breaks. Humid and misty overnight also, with occasional drizzle about and lows of 14 or 15°C.

Monday

Remaining close and humid, but rather mixed. Some dry, bright spells, but cloudy, misty periods too, with occasional rain and patches of fog. Top temperatures 18 to 20°C in many western and northern areas, but in the low 20s over more southern and eastern areas.

Tuesday

Fresher for Tuesday, with bright or sunny spells, but some cloudy periods at times too. Mostly dry, with any showers light and very well scattered. Highs of 16 to 20°C in just moderate southwesterly breezes.

Management notes

Drought conditions, housing bulls and farm safety are all topics for this week's beef management notes.

In dairy this week, Aidan Brennan looks at reducing grass demand, the outlook for grass growth and says farmers should stay positive during the drought.

This week's sheep management notes cover drought management, worm burdens, blowfly strike and cobalt supplementation.

And in tillage, with grain yields appearing to be down on recent years, the option to grow forage catch crops might help to bolster the yield loss.