Farm margins slashed by up to 40pc in years of heavy rainfall
Net margins on heavy soil farms can be reduced by up to 40pc in high rainfall years, according to new research at Solohead.
High rainfall years, such as this one, can reduce net income on a 40ha holding by up to €16,000, even with the best management practices being employed on the holding.
The strong association between soil wetness and profitability was outlined by researcher, James Humphreys.
A 25pc reduction in herbage production with the same inputs, difficult grazing conditions, longer housing, higher concentrate costs, lower body condition, lower milk yields, poor silage quality and an increase in the incidence of rushes and liver fluke were the main factors identified.
Annual rainfall at the farm has varied from 797mm to 1,336mm over the past decade or so. In 2008 and 2009, annual rainfall was 1,228mm and 1,336mm respectively, with the top soil waterlogged for 14 months of the 24-month period, while the water level remained close to the top for the remaining months.
The water table on the farm varies from 0-2m, averaging around 1m under good conditions, compared to 20m at Moorepark.
"If we get a centimetre of rain on this farm, it raises the water table by 16 centimetres," explained Mr Humphreys.