Ambitious targets... Green Acres Calf to Beef
Teagasc advisor Gordon Peppard profiles two of the participating farmers in the Green Acres Calf to Beef programme
Based in Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny, Pat Bowden and his family farm 100 hectares of grassland in three separate blocks. Having taken over the land in recent years, some ground needs development work in terms of drainage, cleaning back sides of field boundaries and reseeding. Pat will work on this over the next few years.
Pat currently has 72 calves bought in, these are mainly Friesian bull calves which will be castrated at six months of age. There are also 35 suckler cows and their calves on the farm. A Limousin bull is currently running with these cows.
Pat previously sold some of the Friesian store bullocks at 22 months of age, but will now look at the option of finishing all stock. Shed space will be the main obstacle to Pat in trying to increase stocking rate and output on the farm over the next couple of years.
Pat`s entire farm was soil sampled in early February before any slurry or fertiliser was applied. On analysing the results it was discovered that the levels of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) were quite low on the farm, with P levels particularly poor. Lime levels were also low, with fields requiring between two and five tonnes per acre.
To grow enough quality grass, the lime first needs correcting and then the P and K levels. Following consultation with local Teagasc advisor, Terry Carroll it was decided to spread two tonnes of lime per acre on 50ac.
To spread the cost and workload of this, another 100 tonnes will be spread at the end of the year or next spring, depending on weather.
Pat may apply a product like 0/7/30 or 0/10/20 at the back end of the year or early next spring to boost P and K levels. It is planned to spread this soil fertility build up out over a couple of years so that substantial costs are not all incurred in the one year.