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Fresh flooding brings slurry and fertiliser spreading to a halt

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Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom

Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom

Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom

A surge in activity on farms across the country has been brought to a halt again by the heavy rains of the last few days.

Last week's dry cold weather saw a huge amount of slurry spread, as farmers and contractors took advantage of the conditions to ease the pressure on slurry storage.

Tillage farmers were also busy getting fertiliser out on crops where ground conditions allowed.

However, the general consensus is that the fertiliser spreading is well back on normal years as a result of the heavy rainfall levels of recent months.

George Ramsbottom of Teagasc said grassland management was also proving extremely difficult for farmers as they have been unable to get cows out on paddocks for extended periods.

Teagasc's Pasturebase service shows that grass growth remains unseasonably low at 7-12kg of dry matter per hectare per day.

Growth rates have been particularly low in the west and northwest where soils are saturated and cold. Soil temperatures remain at 4-6°C.

On the tillage front, lands have started to dry slowly but farmers have been concentrating on getting fertiliser out and spraying.

Ploughing

North Dublin agricultural consultant Richie Hackett said ground was still too wet to consider ploughing.

The forecast for the coming week is for temperatures to rise to 11-12°C but for the weather to remain unsettled, with heavy showers.

After record rainfall figures in February, which saw some areas experience over three times the normal levels of rain, Met Eireann estimate that an additional 50mm has fallen across the west, Munster and the midlands since last Saturday.

The Shannon remains exceptionally high in places, with fears the heavy rainfall could trigger renewed flooding in parts of Mayo, Galway, Westmeath, Clare and Roscommon.

In some places, the Shannon is almost two metres above normal water levels and thousands of acres of farmland remain under flood waters.

Indo Farming