'Young farmers should travel before rushing home to the farm'
Teagasc/FBD student of the year says that one of his biggest recommendations to young farmers is to travel and see the world before coming home to the farm.

One of Shane Fitzgerald’s biggest recommendations to young farmers is to travel and see the world.

The 2016 Teagasc/FBD student of the year has said that he sees a lot of students who try to rush home to the farm a bit too young.

“Go work for other people, live a bit when you’re younger and enjoy it. You’ll be on the farm for the rest of your life and it is a tough life and long hours.

“I went away and didn’t do anything to do with farming. It was a J1 and it made me more independent and matured me.

“It developed me as a person a lot. So I’d definitely recommend people to try to travel after school for a few years.”

Importance of education

Fitzgerald says he understands the importance of education more than anyone since he’s been in college for six years.

The Waterford dairy farmer started off in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) doing accounting and then went back to Kildalton Agriculture College for two years.

“I’ve been there [in education] a long time. Maybe at first I didn’t realise the value of it.

“As you get older, you start to see [the value of it] more and more.”

Going into Kildalton, Fitzgerald already had the business and financial side of things covered. It was his grassland management that he improved on in Kildalton.

“That was a big thing I wanted to focus on when I went to Kildalton. At home we didn’t measure grass, we were still [farming at] high standards, but we didn’t do it to the next level up to young farmers I suppose.”

Green Cert is ‘not enough’

On the Green Cert, he thinks farmers should really have to do four years in education and do the Level 7.

“I just don’t think doing the Green Cert, the minimum, is enough. If you want to take over a dairy farm, it’s all business, you won’t have enough knowledge to take it over.

“You’ll go back home and your father might be only in his 40s or 50s, he’s not going to relinquish the responsibility to you.”

Winning student of the year

On winning the Teagasc/FBD student of the year award, Fitzgerald said that he never expected to win it.

“I’m absolutely delighted, I can’t believe it, I never expected to win it. Just to get this far is an achievement because the standards were so high.

“I never expected to get in the top three never mind win it. I’m over the moon.

“I’ve worked so hard over the years to get here and to have my parents and girlfriend here to support me means a lot as well.

“It’s a proud day for me and my family. It’s a kind of stepping stone in my career.”

He doesn’t think he would have won the award if he had gone straight from school into Kildalton.

“I definitely matured a bit in the four years in WIT. I came back and I was more focused – I knew what I wanted to do.”

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Three-man race for ICSA president
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) will elect a new president in June.

Three candidates are in the running to become the next president of the ICSA following the close of nominations on Friday evening.

In alphabetical order, these candidates are as follows:

  • Hugh Farrell, Cavan.
  • Dermot Kelleher, Cork west.
  • Edmond Phelan, Waterford.
  • The election will take place in Portlaoise on the evening of Thursday 27 June.

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    Watch: vegetable growers turn on the irrigation systems
    O’Shea Farms and Hughes Farming have both turned on the irrigation pumps this week.

    In order to combat dry conditions, O’Shea Farms and Hughes Farming were irrigating crops this week.

    Julian Hughes says he has never irrigated as early as May before and that he has two reels out at the moment, but will be putting another two out next week if there is no rain in the meantime.

    “We have a 30mm soil moisture deficit,” he said.

    “The fear of a repeat of 2018 is palpable in the yard at home, there’s dust everywhere.”

    In a normal year, he said that he would irrigate the crops in July and August.

    But so far he has put 30mm on parsnips and followed up five days later with another 30mm.

    “You could ask are we selecting higher-yielding varieties that need more inputs. But I’m using the same variety with the last 20 years.

    "It’s just very dry. We need 50mm over three days to get things balanced up.”

    Agronomist with O’Shea farms Tom Murray said that it would be normal for them to be irrigating at this time of year. They grow carrots in Piltown and Carrick-on-Suir.

    “We’re putting on 12mm to 15mm, not any more than that. We don’t want to wash away any pre-emergence spray,” Tom said.

    “There has been years before when we needed to irrigate to encourage germination. But the soil is starting to dry out and we want to be ahead of it.”

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    Investigation launched into compromised DkIT agriculture exam
    An examination paper sat by final-year agriculture science students in DkIT was compromised and students have to resit it.

    Final-year agriculture students in Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) must resit an examination after a paper was compromised.

    In a statement, head of school of health and science at DkIT Dr Edel Healy said that on 20 May the college became aware that an examination paper sat by final-year students on one programme on 14 May was compromised.

    As a result, all students in the class must now resit the examination on Friday 24 May or at a later date to be decided in August.

    Investigation

    “DkIT has launched an active investigation into the circumstances surrounding this issue,” Dr Healy said.

    “All students affected by this situation have now been contacted and reassured that any repeat exams if required after the August sitting will be scheduled prior to the completion of the autumn exam board process.

    "This will ensure that all successful students may be conferred in November as planned.”

    Stress

    The college recognised the additional stress and inconvenience to students and extended study hours have been provided at the library.

    “The protection of academic integrity and assessment is of the utmost importance at DkIT and the institute follows best practice to ensure security of its examinations process.

    "As part of the current investigation, an extensive review of our examination processes and procedures will be carried out,” said Dr Healy.

    “I would like the thank our students for their continued understanding and co-operation during this process.”