‘Once in a generation’ – Farmers Journal subeditor makes ancient discovery
Anthony Murphy is a subeditor with the Irish Farmers Journal and on Tuesday he made a major new discovery in the Boyne Valley.

Anthony Murphy was “gobsmacked” on Tuesday night when he discovered a never-seen-before henge monument in the Boyne Valley, not far from Newgrange.

Murphy is a subeditor with the Irish Farmers Journal and his discovery in a tillage field in Meath is being described by archaeologists as a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Murphy said that he and Ken Williams of Shadows and Stone weren't out with the drone by accident.

“There were headlines in the UK about the possibility of sites being discovered given the drought. What happens is the moisture left in the soil lodges into the archaeological features – which makes the crop greener as it has more moisture than the soil around it."

These headlines, and the advice of an archaeologist, prompted him to fly his drone over the landscape to see if anything might show up.

“The main discovery is a giant henge about 200m in diameter that is unrecorded and has never been seen before. The image is just stunning. There are three sites in total in the field and a number of possible additional archaeological features too.

“When I saw it first I was like ‘what’s that? What the hell is that?’ It’s something I had never seen before. It is huge.”

What happens next?

Murphy has spoken with archaeologists about the discovery and they have told him it’s a once-in-a-generation discovery. Stephen Davis of the UCD archaeology faculty said that it is the most exciting aerial image of Irish archaeology he has ever seen.

The field belongs to a farmer who has a mixed operation of beef, sheep and tillage.

Archaeologists are poring over the images and Murphy has reported the find to the National Monuments Service, who are equally excited with the "new" site.

“There is a huge array of stuff in this small area of Ireland around Newgrange. This is just incredible. I’m still pinching myself.

“It’s the most exciting day for me in terms of monuments. I've been writing about and photographing monuments for 20 years. I would have said all that there was to find had already been revealed by archaeologists. I’m gobsmacked.”

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.