Toomevara based Abbey Machinery’s CEO Clodagh Cavanagh and successful Tipperary hurling manager Liam Sheedy were among a panel of speakers at the conference, which also included representatives from Teagasc, UCD, SEAI and EPA.

Clodagh spoke about the importance of getting the balance right between work and family time, as well as recruiting, trusting and delegating to good people.

She also focused on the need to set clear farm plans and to manage resources well, particularly land, labour, finance and capital. These, combined with a focus on quality and innovation, are some of the key elements that Clodagh believes have provided over 70 years of success for Abbey Machinery.

After an extremely difficult winter for farmers, their families and livestock, Liam Sheedy spoke of the importance of farmers minding the most important asset on the farm, farmers themselves. Liam spoke of the importance of having the resilience and courage to continue when faced with difficult circumstances. He challenged those present to focus on positivity, constant improvement and developing a one year plan of things to achieve on the farm and with family members. Above all he encouraged everyone to think about solutions.

Presentations from IFA’s Smart Farming seminar can be downloaded at

Maximise grass growth while increasing fodder reserves

After a highly stressful and long winter, farmers are planning for the year’s grazing season and winter ahead. The question many are asking right now is, how can I maximise grass growth while increasing

fodder reserves for the future?

The response of Teagasc’s David Wall is clear. Build soil fertility to build resilience into the system.

Why focus on soil fertility?

  • Many farmers will focus on reseeding, when the most cost effective way to grow more grass is to get the fertility of the soil right first.
  • The first step in getting soil fertility right is to make sure the pH is right. Lime will improve soil pH. Think of lime as being like oil in an engine. If you fill the tractor with diesel and forget about the oil, the system will cease. Similarly if you continuously apply fertilisers and forget about lime, then you are limiting grass growth. Remember, feeding good quality grazed grass is almost four times cheaper than concentrates.
  • Soil fertility targets

  • Soil pH between 6 and 6.5
  • Soils in index 3 for phosphorous and potassium
  • Building soil fertility should be seen as a capital investment

  • It will cost €250/ha to move up one soil index
  • This cost should be budgeted into a farm development plan
  • Building soil fertility will make a return on investment of more than 2:1
  • Things to remember

  • Study your soil test results, so you can apply lime and nutrients in the correct balance
  • Optimise slurry use first – then top up with fertilisers as required
  • Planning and budgeting is key
  • Soil fertility – the last word

    Getting soil fertility right is a key investment to maintaining a viable farming business. It maximises nutrient uptake and reduces environmental risks.

    For more on smart farming visit