Spring barley the only crop in NI with production increase
The total production of spring barley in Northern Ireland was up 17% in 2018, but all other crops were down on last year’s levels.

Yields of spring barley in the 2018 harvest in NI were up by 10% from last year’s levels to 5.17t/ha, according to figures released by DAERA on Thursday.

The 2018 spring barley crop is close to the five-year average yield and reflects the more favourable harvest conditions compared with autumn 2017.

The poor autumn last year meant less winter crops were planted and spring barley acreage in NI was subsequently up by 6% to 14,900ha.

This, plus improved yields, meant that total spring barley production in NI was up 17% in 2018 to 77,000t.

Production drop

Yields of wheat and oats were back by 9% and 10% to 6.97t/ha and 5.05t/ha respectively in NI this year, with dry weather during the summer blamed for the reduced crop.

With acreage of both crops down in NI this year, total production of wheat and oats is down by 29% and 20% to 47,700t and 10,200t respectively.

Winter barley

Winter barley yields were up 2% on last year’s levels to 6.93t/ha, but with the area planted down by 18%, total production decreased by 17% in 2018 to 40,300t.

DAERA figures indicate that yields of potatoes (ware and seed combined) were down 16% year on year to 32.61t/ha.

Total potato production in NI this year was 25% lower than 2017 levels at 116,100t.

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Sheep inventory forms to be returned to DAERA
Northern Ireland sheep farmers have until 5 January 2019 to return flock inventory cards to DAERA.

Keepers of sheep and goats in NI are required to complete the annual flock inventory card and return it to DAERA by 5 January 2019.

Details of the number of sheep and goats on the holding between 1 and 5 December 2018 must be provided in the inventory.

This information must also be recorded in the on-farm flock register.

Slight change

The card has changed slightly, with a section to record an email address now included and a question that requested the occupation of the keeper removed.

DAERA has said that failure to return inventory cards will increase the possibility of the flock being selected for an identification inspection.

The card must be signed and posted to DAERA in the pre-addressed envelope.

Alternatively, the inventory can be completed on the department’s website through DAERA online services.

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News in-brief from North Ireland
The December sale of pedigree Aberdeen Angus bulls saw a top price of 3,300gns , DAERA launches a cattle movement phone service and more news from around Northern Ireland.

DAERA launches cattle movement phone service

DAERA has updated its cattle registration telephone service to allow cattle purchased at a mart to be confirmed into the buyer’s herd.

Before this, confirmation of cattle movements into a herd could only be done through applying a sticker identifier to a paper MC2B document, or using APHIS online. Similar to APHIS online, the telephone service allows animals to be confirmed into the herd immediately.

The service is operated by DAERA staff and is available on 0300-2007855, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

GDT auction moves up 2.2%

There was a positive outcome at this week’s GDT auction, with the index price rising 2.2% to US $2,819/t.

It was the first positive result in eight auctions and while the outcome will be welcomed, dairy analysts are still highlighting that the index price remains on par with that of autumn 2016, when milk prices were typically 22p-24p/l.

Butter prices rose 2.7%, while skim milk powder increased by 0.3%. Whole milk powder rose by 2.5%, but cheddar prices fell by 2.2%.

At Wednesday’s Dutch Dairy Board Auction, whole milk powder strengthened by €20/t, with skim prices rising €20/t to €1,660. Butter fell €20/t to €4,160.

Meanwhile, the average farmgate milk price paid to UK dairy farmers in October was 31.52p/l, putting it 4p/l ahead of the five-year rolling average UK milk price of 27.46p/l.

Dale Farm wins sustainable awards

Local dairy company Dale Farm has won in two categories at the 2018 Sustainable Ireland awards.

The company was awarded Best Use of Renewable Energy Sources in recognition of its Dunmanbridge production plant, which is now powered by a 5Mw, 25-acre solar farm.

In addition, Dale Farm group projects engineer Gary McNeill was named Energy Manager of the Year for his work in converting current operations over to sustainable and renewable sources. Looking ahead, the Dunmanbridge site is also scheduled to convert from heavy fuel oil for running boilers, to natural gas during 2019 – a move which could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4,500t.

The co-op also said it will focus on rationalising farm and secondary haulage transport, with the objective to reduce weekly mileage by 9,000 miles, which could yield an annual reduction of 800t of carbon dioxide.

Top names take QUB ambassador roles

A number of key figures, past and present, from the agri food industry have taken on ambassador roles for the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast.

The new group will be chaired by ex-Dunbia deputy chief and former Moy Park director, Tony O’Neill, and includes the executive chair of Devenish, Owen Brennan; former Moy Park chief executive Janet McCollum; former Moy Park director Eric Reid, and former Dale Farm chief executive David Dobbin.

According to Tony O’Neill, one of the main aims of the group will be to promote a safe and robust food industry for NI, underpinned by a robust, scientific evidence-base from IGFS.

Angus bulls sell to 3,300gns at Dungannon

Tuesday’s sale of Aberdeen Angus bulls at Dungannon mart reached a top price of 3,300gns for an April 2017-born animal bred by Adrian Parke, Strabane.

Coolermoney Samson was sired by Cloghogmill Eric and out of a cow sired by The Moss Black Lord. Samson was purchased by Kevin Moore, Liverpool, for his famous pedigree herd that operates under the ‘The Moss’ prefix.

Second highest price of 3,200gns went to Robin Lamb, Richhill. His April 2017-born bull, Richhill Black Bungle, was sired by Lockerley Legolas and out of the homebred cow Richhill Black Mist, sired by Netherton Archie.

Supreme champion was awarded to Ian Colville, Crawfordsburn, with his December 2016-born, GlenCowie Jack, which later sold for 3,000gns.

NIIAS Winter Fair breakfast

The NI Institute of Agricultural Science (NIIAS) is hosting a breakfast event at AFBI Hillsborough before the RUAS Winter Fair on 13 December 2018.

Guest speaker at the event is Irish Farmers Journal agribusiness editor Eoin Lowry. He will speak about the current performance of the agri food industry and the outlook for 2019.

Breakfast will be served from 7.30am. The event costs £10 for members, £15 for non-members and £7.50 for students.

Places should be booked in advance before Monday 10 December by contacting NIIAS chair Francis Lively at chairman@niias.co.uk or 079-36648495.

Online registration is also available by searching ‘NIIAS breakfast’ on www.eventbrite.co.uk

DAERA consults on Brexit changes

Two public consultations are currently ongoing in DAERA over proposed changes to NI domestic legislation ahead of the UK leaving the European Union.

The proposals mainly relate to new NI legislation required as part of the UK government’s EU Withdrawal Act, as well as updates to EU references in existing legislation.

The regulations have been drafted on the basis of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

“This is to allow readiness for all eventualities and is not an indication of whether the UK will exit the EU under a deal or no-deal scenario,” the consultation letter reads.

A department spokesperson said that all proposed regulations can be finalised without a minister in post at DAERA.

Protect your water supply this winter

NI Water, along with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), has urged farmers to protect their water supply this winter, by ensuring pipes are insulated against frost.

As part of routine maintenance, NI Water also advises farmers to:

  • Check meters on a regular basis.
  • Consider mapping the line of the pipework around the farm.
  • Install a number of stop valves to isolate water supply to disused areas.
  • Check for and repair any leakage promptly.
  • Inspect remote troughs which may not be used at this time of year.
  • Ensure all underground pipes are buried 750mm below ground.
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    October milk league correction
    Some minor changes are required to the prices reported in our 650,000l league in NI.

    In the October milk leagues published last week, an error occurred in calculating the final prices for the 650,000l league table.

    Glanbia Cheese finished at the top with a price of 31.43p/l for alternate day milk collection, as printed. However, while the league positions are all unchanged, there are a number of small corrections to be made to individual prices. Dale Farm is in second with a price of 31.42p/l for alternate day and 30.93p/l for daily collection – not the 31.28p/l and 30.80p/l originally reported.

    Lakeland remains in fifth with an alternate day price of 29.28p/l and daily price of 28.63p/l. While LacPatrick paid 28.11p/l for alternate day and 27.85p/l for daily collection.

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