Monday 26 September 2016

Our week: Martin and Matt Garrigan, Balheary, Co Dublin

Ken Whelan

Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30

Martin and Matt Garrigan, Balheary, their 300ac tillage farm is near Swords.
Martin and Matt Garrigan, Balheary, their 300ac tillage farm is near Swords.

The Garrigans have just finished the spring barley and are ready to harvest their winter bean crop at the family's 300ac tillage farm in Balheary outside Swords in Co Dublin.

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"It's our first time with the crop so it will be interesting to see what the 50ac yield", says Matt Garrigan, an Ag Science student at UCD who helps his father Martin run the enterprise.

The next job is planting the cover crops, oats and radishes this year, to improve organic matter and soil strength in advance of next year's growing season.

Over the winter, the Garrigans will review their decision to switch from tractor ploughing to direct drilling a year ago.

Young Matt is impressed with the Mzuri drill they bought from Kelly's of Borris, while dad Martin is a little more cautious: "I am about 70pc convinced about the change. If the yields hold up over the next year or two I'll be happy," he says.

"It's very weather dependent. We have heavier soil than the Wexford and Carlow lads so you wouldn't go drilling in mucky conditions.

"You have to wait for your window of opportunity weather-wise."

Matt counters with the agri -research on the question from sources worldwide and on balance it looks as though the Garrigans will be drilling on.

The switch has certainly produced on-farm savings - a 66pc cut in labour and machinery costs, according to Matt; "50pc to 66pc" interjects Martin - and there has only been a 0.1 t/ac drop in overall yields.

The savings are needed considering the poor grain prices of the past few years.

'Grain prices were very low this year - €135 a tonne," Matt says.

The Garrigans generally supply Drummonds in Co Louth.

The current yields out in Balheary are 2t/ac on rape seed, 2.87t/ac on spring barley and between 4 and 4.5t on winter barley.

Grainne Garrigan, the lady of the farm, is sanguine about the switch from traditional ploughing to drilling preferring to concentrate on the stable of equestrian ponies she has developed which has seen both young Matt and his younger brother Luke compete at international level for Ireland throughout their teens.

"Let the boys at it," she says - a view which seems to be echoed by Luke the youngest.

Indo Farming

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