This week saw farmers around the country flock in their thousands to Moorepark in Fermoy to find out about the latest research being carried out there at the annual open day.

The air of positivity was very refreshing, as the strength of the Irish grass-based system was brought up time and time again.

Brendan Horan made it clear that although farmers are good at adapting to changes “we have to do better and adapt to new technologies faster”.

He added that all farmers need to be seen to be engaging in these technologies to show that we are doing our bit.

The grass based technologies mentioned were:

  • Grazing management.
  • Soil fertility.
  • Clover.
  • Reduced fertiliser N.
  • LESS.
  • Protected N forms.
  • Grazing management was one topic that was mentioned at a number of boards on the day. Through measuring grass, you can establish how much your farm is growing and its requirement for nitrogen.

    Having soil samples allows farmers to target fertiliser and slurry where it is required and get the best return from it.

    Clover was the buzzword of the day and it was hard not to see the advantages of getting clover established on-farm.

    The main take home messages around clover establishment were the importance of soil fertility, early sowing (between late March and early May) and grazing management post-emergence (grazing at 1,000kg DM/ha – 1,100kg DM/ha for the first three to four grazings).

    As more and more dairy farmers are now using LESS (low emission slurry spreading equipment), it is vital that chemical N inputs are reduced accordingly, to avoid having expensive surplus N in the system.

    A greater uptake in protected N needs to happen, as only 12-14% of farmers are currently using this technology.