No need to feel swamped if you are farming on wet land
THE Irish Grassland Association (IGA) travelled west for their summer beef conference and farm visit. As usual, they came up with some gems.
Michael Mellett, the host beef farmer, I'd met before. My belief he is a perfectionist hasn't changed after last week's visit – more on this later.
The IGA conference speaker on drainage, James O'Loughlin, was new to me. His enthusiasm and knowledge of drainage reminded me of the late great John Mulqueen – scientist and champion to those farming wet land.
In recent years, Teagasc had cavalierly ignored wetland farming but a couple of weather washouts has jolted the organisation back to reality. Mr O'Loughlin and a couple of colleagues are working to fill the knowledge gaps in this area.
Up to 2009, Mr O'Loughlin managed the Teagasc wetland dairy farm at Kilmaley, Co Clare. Teagasc, in their wisdom, closed the research in this most challenging of wet soil farms.
Instead, they have brought in their 'Heavy Soils Programme' where Mr O'Loughlin is working closely with eight dairy farmers across Munster who are farming on heavy soils. These are at Rossmore and Solohead in Tipperary, Boherbue and Macroom in Cork, Castleisland and Listowel in Kerry, Athea in Limerick and Doonbeg in Clare.
The rainfall in Oakpark Carlow in 2012 was 840mm and locals thought it was bad. Some of the farms monitored last year by Mr O'Loughlin had almost double Oakpark's total, he told the I(GA conference at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, Co Mayo.
Last year will forever be etched in memories as an awful 12 months for Irish livestock farmers, but it was the occupiers of poorly drained soils that suffered the brunt of the hardship and setbacks. Mr O'Loughlin gave data for 2012 versus 2011 collected from his monitor farms: