It is questionable whether there is room for slurry on a lot of tillage farms. That was one of the messages coming from the tillage panel on the Irish Farmers Journal stand at Tuesday’s National Ploughing Championships.

Robbie Byrne of Precision Nutrition and Nuffield Scholar in biological farming was joined by tillage reporter at the Irish Farmers Journal and PhD student in crop science Conor Kehoe for a chat on all things soil and the future of tillage.

Many tillage fields are high in phosphorus and Robbie asked: “Is there room on tillage farms for all this slurry? There’s already a lot of slurry being exported to tillage farms.”

Joined-up thinking

No doubt more joined-up thinking is needed between livestock and tillage sectors, but exporting slurry was not seen as a major solution to help the sector out of what is currently a very difficult time.

“I think the future for tillage is joined-up thinking. How do we take a product and get two bites of the cherry out of it,” Byrne continued.

He said that margins are so tight on most farms that we need added value markets for products and the by-product could be for the feed industry.

Byrne added that we could have an Irish ration or a ration with Irish ingredients and ingredients from neighbouring countries, but these ingredients need to be non-GM. He also said “one thing we lack in the tillage sector is a co-op structure”.

'Promote positives'

Conor Kehoe commented that the sector needs “to do more to promote the positives about the sector and the food we grow”.

He added that there are livestock competitions in schools and more needs to be done to create awareness about the sector.

He commented: “It’s hard for someone not from a tillage farm to get into the sector.”

The full talk will go out on this week’s Irish Farmers Journal Tillage Podcast, out on Thursday at 4pm.