Har­vest­ing re­main­ing fields pos­ing prob­lems

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FARMING - BY GEMMA MACKENZIE

A po­ten­tial so­lu­tion to the prob­lems faced by wet weather-hit arable and live­stock pro­duc­ers in the west has been mooted by SAC Con­sult­ing.

The con­sult­ing divi­sion of SRUC says farm­ers suf­fer­ing due to the wet weather should con­sider co-op­er­at­ing for mu­tual ben­e­fit.

“In ar­eas suf­fer­ing from the very wet au­tumn, many live­stock pro­duc­ers are des­per­ately short of for­age to feed their stock through the com­ing win­ter,” said SAC Con­sult­ing beef ad­viser Basil Low­man.

“For arable pro­duc­ers, the prob­lem is how to har­vest their re­main­ing fields of ce­re­als and get the next crops suc­cess­fully planted.”

He said a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion, which would ben­e­fit both live­stock and arable farm­ers, was to har­vest stand­ing crops with a for­age har­vester fit­ted with a grain cracker.

“You pre­serve the for­age in a pit with urea to pro­duce a silage ‘re­placer’ for live­stock pro­duc­ers to feed to their stock over the com­ing win­ter,” said Mr Low­man.

“As cat­tle can di­gest whole oats, when har­vest­ing them there would be no need to crack the grain.”

SAC Con­sult­ing said the sys­tem was very sim­i­lar to the sys­tem used for urea treated whole crop. This is a com­mon method used to con­serve less ma­ture grain crops be­fore the devel­op­ment of grain crack­ers in mod­ern for­age har­vesters.

Mr Low­man said this method had a proven his- tory of suc­cess­fully pre­serv­ing wet, leafy crops for stock feed over the win­ter months.

“The ben­e­fits would be a quick, sin­gle pass har­vest for the arable pro­ducer and for the live­stock pro­ducer a lo­cal source of qual­ity roughage with min­i­mal trans­port costs,” added Mr Low­man.

Ear­lier this month SAC Con­sult­ing is­sued a tranche of guid­ance to live­stock pro­duc­ers on how best to deal with the wet weather prob­lems.

It urged pro­duc­ers to plan ahead to en­sure they have enough win­ter feed for their live­stock.

In in­stances where for­age short­ages are on the hori­zon, pro­duc­ers were told to con­sider sell­ing all calves and lambs as stores, and to cull any lean and bar­ren fe­males. They were told to con­sider away win­ter­ing op­tions, and to strip graze silage ground which is too wet to cut and bale.

“Many pro­duc­ers are des­per­ately short of for­age to feed their stock”

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