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Mini-drought forcing some farmers to eat into existing grazing covers


File photo

File photo

File photo

A mini-drought in the east is forcing some farmers to eat into their farm covers.

"Growth rates in the north-east are between 40-50kg per hectare on average, but demand is at 60kg, so farmers are eating into their covers," said Meath-based Teagasc advisor Fergal Maguire.

"Farmers should match growth and demand on the farm so the average farm cover does not decline. This can be done by increasing supplement or reducing the stocking rate on the grazing platform.

"Farmers should avoid cutting surplus bales off the grazing platform and hold average farm cover.

"If there are paddocks closed off for surplus bales, these should be grazed to extend the rotation length and to avoid running down the average farm cover on the grazing platform.

"They should walk the farm twice weekly to monitor growth rate and average farm cover. It's important to be proactive and make decisions early."

In very dry weather Teagasc also recommends not spreading nitrogen until rain is forecast or occurs, particularly on bare dry soils with little cover.

Research shows that soil moisture deficits of more than 50mm limit grass growth and reduce N demand and uptake.

Rainfall averages

Data from Met éireann shows that rainfall totals across the country were below average for the month of April, with just 12.8mm falling at Dublin Airport, which is 24pc of the average April rainfall.

After a spell of dry and mild weather, Met éireann is predicting that conditions will become much more unsettled and cooler later in the week.

During Thursday night and Friday, spells of wet and windy weather are likely, followed by breezy and unsettled conditions at the weekend.

It will also turn cooler from Friday, with highest daytime temperatures of around 12-15C.

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