DAERA seeks soil scheme feedback

Farmers who did not register for the first phase of the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme are to be contacted by DAERA to find out why they didn’t sign up for the free soil testing service.

The scheme was first opened to eligible farmers in Zone 1, covering Co Down and parts of Antrim and Armagh. While nearly 90% of farmers registered, a significant number did not, despite warnings that being part of the scheme would be a condition for future farm payments.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots confirmed that soil sample collection routes are now being planned in Zone 1, and will mainly start in mid-November 2022 and run until February 2023.

“Once the fields have been sampled, farmers can expect to receive their soil sample analysis results and fertiliser recommendations directly from the soil analysis contractor, NRM within four to six weeks,” said the Minister.

Farmers will also receive soil maps, with follow-up training offered by CAFRE.

Ulster Wool seeks county reps

Ulster Wool is seeking farmers to stand for election to serve as county representatives for a three-year term, starting from 1 January 2023.

The commitment includes a maximum of four regional meetings per year, and to be considered each person needs to be nominated by at least 10 members from the county they wish to represent.

The deadline for nominations is 27 October 2022. Further details at www.ulsterwool.com.

“Our county representatives act as ambassadors, representing Ulster Wool on a local level and acting as a voice for members,” said Ulster Wool chair, Brendan Kelly.

Deadline extended for Angus Challenge

Following the bank holiday on Monday, the deadline for schools to enter ABP’s Angus Youth Challenge has been extended to Monday 3 October 2022. This skills development programme is for pupils in Year 11 (14-15-year-olds), with a mini-herd of Angus-cross calves worth around £3,500 part of the package of prizes.

Moy Park to grow Ballymena site

Leading poultry business Moy Park has announced plans to close its Ashbourne factory in Derbyshire and concentrate fresh poultry processing at three factories, two of which are in NI.

The company is currently in consultation with unions regarding the move, which has been taken following a strategic review of operations. That review highlighted that Ashbourne is unsuitable for further investment.

The Moy Park sites in Ballymena and at Anwick in Lincolnshire have been identified as having the capacity to absorb additional production and grow in future.

The Ashbourne facility employs 860 staff and became part of Moy Park following a deal to buy Dove Valley in 2004.


Big entry at Blue Leicester sale

An exceptional entry of over 650 Bluefaced Leicester sheep at Ballymena Mart last Saturday saw trade slightly back on the previous year.

Topping the trade was a ram lamb from the Knockstacken flock of Timothy Wray, Carnlough, which was bought for 12,000gns by Michael Woods for his Knockbarragh Blues flock.

Lee Beacom from the Lakeview flock in Fivemiletown secured 9,800gns, while the Giants Causeway flock of A&D McKillop received 9,500gns

In total, 173 ram lambs sold to average just over £1090, down from £1,236 last year.

Topping the shearling trade was a tup from the Freehall flock of M Kelly, which sold for 4,800gns.