'Reseeding pastures will pay for itself within a year'
Tom Starr, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, agricultural advisor, animal feeds manager and beekeeper
It's a busy time for Arrabawn animal feeds manager and agricultural adviser, Tom Starr, at what he describes as "the very essence of a community based co-op" even though the co-op's reach extends from Tipperary and across the midlands to the west.
Farm discussion group talks with farmers on a wide range of subjects from dairy technology to fertilisers, grass management, animal nutrition and cereals are the order of his days as he travels across north Tipperary, Offaly, south Roscommon, Galway and Clare.
"The main topic at the moment is mastitis in cows and the Development Farms Programme to increase best practice suitable for the condition. Over the past year or so I have done up to 20 discussion groups on the topic. But we are also doing grass measuring and pasture reseeding at meetings with farmers and we are promoting the Teagasc Pasture Profit Index," Tom outlines.
Arrabawn, also in association with Teagasc, is currently designing a Development Farms Programme to improve returns on farms in the Arrabawn catchment area.
Tom is particularly emphatic about the need for farmers to reseed their pastures. He says this is now a virtually self financing investment as well as being an essential good farming practice.
"It costs about €200 to €300 an acre to get it right but the returns in terms of dry matter mean the investment is recovered within a year," he says.
Calculating the tonnage, he shows that the average field in his catchment area is producing between 7 and 8 tonnes of dry matter a hectare a year, while on reseeded pastures the yield is 14 tonnes. That's a huge return for a €300 a hectare investment.
He reckons he has probably met most of the farmers who do business with Arrabawn. "I've certainly met 1,000 in Tipperary, especially in the Toomevara area - the home of Tipperary hurling. Put that in, it will annoy them in South Tipperary," he quipped.