The last month on the farm has been filled with the usual mid-summer jobs, plus a few small projects to keep us busy.
Getting all the slurry tanks emptied and the sheds cleaned out were the priorities. With a few wet days two weeks ago, we decided to concentrate on spreading slurry on the silage ground and some of the grazing ground that was grazed bare with the suckler cows.
Some years, the last of the slurry here on the farm was only spread a few weeks before the deadline, but this year, with fertiliser at an all-time high price-wise, the slurry had to be made better use of.
There were about 70 loads of slurry left in the tanks after the winter and the silage ground was covered with 2,000 gallons per acre, while the grazing ground got 1,000 gallons per acre.
We added 10 loads of water to the tanks before we started to agitate the slurry to make it as watery as possible before spreading. We are still just using the splash plate on our own tank, so we had to watch the weather to spread it on a few wet days.
It is also a great relief to have this job out of the way at this time of year and not worry about it coming up to deadline next October. This year, like other years, we have used the slurry and the dung as best we can and covered as much ground as possible.
I have cut back somewhat on the chemical fertiliser this year, but even at this stage, you wouldn’t need soil samples to see the difference on the farm where the fertiliser was restricted. It can be clearly seen as the grass growth in these fields is not as good as other years.
Going forward, with the high price of fertiliser on beef and sheep farms, the decision will have to be made whether to spread the same amount of fertiliser at the increased cost or decrease stock numbers and try have better results from the remaining animals.
We also have all the sheds cleaned out that were either straw bedded for calving or lambing, plus the peat bedded shed that is used for the weanlings.
We also have them nearly power-washed and this will give them a great chance to dry out for next year’s winter. With disinfectant later in the year, it should kill as many germs as possible.
As we have our own dung spreader, I decided to spread all the dung as we cleaned out the sheds. I’ve been doing this for the last few years and it has worked very well.
About 25pc of the farm is low lying with a peaty soil type and can get very wet for the winter. So at this time of the year, I spread a light coat of dung on this land.
I graze it bare with the suckler cows around early August and apply a light coat of dung after this grazing.
Again, after a few days of rain and with good growing conditions, the grass seems to pull the dung into the soil, but if there is a cover of grass when spreading the dung, it just rises up with the grass and can be a disaster.
I have found this yard manure has turned this land inside out. It is ground that was reseeded about 10 years ago and only gets one round of fertiliser at the start of the grazing season.
While this land can be hard to manage and is only available for use for about seven months of the year, it can still feed a lot of animals during the summer and is very beneficial when the silage ground is closed up and animals can be turned into this area.
During the last couple of weeks, we have caught up with all of the fencing jobs around the farm.
Again, it involves a cost to the farm, especially with materials such as stakes and wire increasing in price. I do think it is money well spent as you can manage stock easier and get peace of mind when road hedges are well fenced.
I have used the PDM 6ft stacks and the high tensile sheep wire with two strands of barbed wire on top. Good stakes are now €10-plus each but, as we have learned, if you don’t use good stakes, they just rot at ground level after a few years.
So I think it’s best to look at the job as a long-term investment, especially when the job is done on your own land.
John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary