Fer­tiliser dead­line ex­ten­sion has paid im­pres­sive div­i­dends

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - HENRY WALSH

Viva the Aviva! Last month I wrote I was look­ing for­ward to the All Blacks game and the oc­ca­sion was ev­ery­thing I could have hoped for and more.

Back to re­al­ity on the farm and Novem­ber, sim­i­lar to Oc­to­ber, was very kind to us. Ground con­di­tions re­mained ex­cep­tional and only now in early De­cem­ber have they got soft un­der­foot.

Min­is­ter Creed and the Depart­ment are to be com­mended on the ex­ten­sion to the fer­tiliser — in par­tic­u­lar the slurry spread­ing dates — as they paid big div­i­dends this year in grow­ing much needed ex­tra grass fol­low­ing the very se­vere drought. Thank­fully, Mother Na­ture was kind enough to al­low it be fully utilised.

We are now com­plet­ing the last few milk­ings and dry­ing off 30 cows a day with the last of them hope­fully dry by the time you are read­ing this.

We are hold­ing the fort as out-farm man­ager John en­joys a well earned hol­i­day in South Amer­ica, vis­it­ing Brazil and Argentina on a farmers’ tour.

In pre­vi­ous years they have been to New Zealand, South Africa and the US.

We are al­ready mov­ing straight into win­ter mode with the silage pit opened on the Novem­ber 28, a week ear­lier than nor­mal.

We sold the sur­plus in-calf heifers in one lot and all the re­main­ing in-calf heifers are block -graz­ing, while solid ground con­di­tions are al­low­ing us to feed bale silage also.

This keeps them very con­tent and we will feed dry cow min­er­als on the silage.

They should stay out till early Jan­uary at least and at present I have no need to sup­ple­ment with meal as they are in great or­der.

When dry­ing off is com­pleted we will dose, hoof pair and BCS the herd and then batch ac­cord­ingly.

We will feed some meal to dry cows this win­ter to en­sure we have ad­e­quate silage re­serves.

A sub­ject that is on my mind more fre­quently is the en­vi­ron­ment.

It is get­ting con­stant me­dia at­ten­tion now and that con­cerns me from the per­spec­tive that de­ci­sions could be taken and reg­u­la­tions im­posed on us by sec­tors out­side of agri­cul­ture.

Our pro­duce could also be dis­placed by pro­duc­tion in other parts of the world where the car­bon foot­print is many times less ef­fi­cient than ours here in Ire­land.

We must all re­spect and do our best to care for the world we live in.

Agri­cul­ture is fac­ing new chal­lenges on com­pli­ance in Eu- rope and Ire­land in par­tic­u­lar is cur­rently un­der the mi­cro­scope.

We need to en­sure we are mea­sured in a fair and eq­ui­table man­ner with credit given where it is due in terms of the ef­forts all farmers make to com­ply with best prac­tice and op­er­ate within rec­om­mended guide­lines.

Ire­land is a green na­tion blessed with a won­der­ful cli­mate for growth.

The abil­ity of our forestry, our moun­tains and our bogs to neu­tralise our emis­sions is mas­sive.

Has the time come for farmers to have a list of ac­tions that they can com­plete to ob­tain cred­its for other farm­ing en­ter­prises?

A short­list might in­clude re­new­ables such as wil­low, forestry, so­lar roof pan­els on farm build­ings, heat re­cov­ery sys­tems and en­ergy ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances.

In the mean­time, we must con­tinue to im­ple­ment best prac­tice led and sup­ported by re­search.

Cus­to­di­ans

Farmers have proven time af­ter time that they are re­spon­si­ble cus­to­di­ans of the coun­try­side.

The progress on slurry stor­age and util­i­sa­tion, the silage wrap re­cy­cling, and the tyre re­cy­cling scheme il­lus­trate what what has been achieved and what can be achieved.

In terms of the fu­ture chal­lenges, farm­ing must have a voice at the de­ci­sion-mak­ing ta­ble, and any new reg­u­la­tions must be based on solid sci­ence.

The im­por­tance of food pro­duc­tion must be val­ued and the sec­tor must not be dis­ad­van­taged by the in­ter­ests of pow­er­ful in­ter­na­tional lobby groups whose in­ter­ests are not aligned with ours.

WE MUST HAVE A VOICE AT THE DE­CI­SION MAK­ING TA­BLE AND IT MUST BE BASED ON SOLID SCI­ENCE

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