Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

First carbon footprint report has a few environmental pointers

Henry and David Stacey's new Claas Lexion 670TT in full flights cutting barley near Gorey, Co Wexford. Photo: Jonathan Leech
Henry and David Stacey's new Claas Lexion 670TT in full flights cutting barley near Gorey, Co Wexford. Photo: Jonathan Leech
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

The last five weeks have been hectic enough both on and off the farm.

Thankfully a holiday break of almost a week was enjoyed by everybody and I must say the sunny southeast lived up to its name with plenty of heat.

A break away is very enjoyable but I must admit for a dairy farmer it takes planning and the day before you go you're never idle.

Cow paddocks have to be planned for the relief milker, along with making sure there will be enough grass for younger animals. Tools and machinery have to be secured as well. During the break I got the two tractors serviced.

We came back last Sunday week right in the middle of a spell of good weather so on the Monday morning it was back to reality with a few hours of gathering stones.

I ploughed almost eight acres of an outfarm on August 16. It was reseeded in perfect conditions. It was rough ground with ditches removed so it needed a fair bit of levelling. It got near three tonnes of lime and four bags of 10-10-20.

The grasseed mix consisted of the varieties Glenveagh, Glenroyal, Majestic and Aspect. It was rolled after seeding. I have been trying to get this job done for two years now.

The other seven acres that I reseeded on July 19 was grazed on August 29. This was six weeks after sowing and had a cover of 1200kgDM/ha. I spread one bag of CAN on it at four weeks and I used a post emergence spray a couple of days later.

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There was a good bit of chickweed and seedling docks growing and it was at the three leaf stage. I got a good kill. I hope I will get it grazed down enough with young animals and that grazing conditions will keep good.

Currently the 78 cows are producing 19 litres at 3.80pc BF, 3.34pc PR giving 1.4kg MS/cow/day, TBC 5000, SCC 147, Therm. 100, Lactose 4.86pc. They are getting 2kgs of a high UFL 16pc nut. Grass cover last week on the farm was 930 or 259/LU. I am happy with grass quality and cows are cleaning out paddocks well.

I am now on my last round of fertiliser spreading with about 20 units of urea being spread. There is some watery slurry that can be spread also.

The bull came out on August 15 from cows and heifers.

I had one January-born Friesian heifer who died last month. I found her dead in the field and she had shown no signs of sickness beforehand. It is quite a shock when they die without warning.

I made 26 round bales of third-cut silage last week. There is still some more third cut to be made. It will be done when the weather comes right again. I also purchased 20 big bales of straw at €40 per bale.

Dairy carbon footprint

Apart from opening the bills after the holiday, one envelope I opened was the details of the Carbon Footprint of my dairy enterprise.

These are new figures that have been compiled from the Origin Green/Bord Bia programme.

My figure was 0.96kg CO2e/kg fat and protein corrected milk which is below the average figure of 1.15kg. The report tells me that, based on my current farm performance, I am excellent on slurry management and nitrogen usage, above average on grazing and below average on energy efficiency and EBI.

We hear so much about carbon footprints in the media nowadays regarding companies and factories and this report certainly brings it into farming.

I attended the first AGM of our new co-op LacPatrick last week. Like all dairy farmers we were glad to hear that there is optimism now regarding milk price at long last.

Gerard Sherlock farms at Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

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