Make most of Greenfield visit
Have you heard about the Greenfield Dairy Project in Kilkenny? Certainly if you are from that county you will have heard all about the work that has gone on at this 113ha (net area) tillage farm in the town land of Clare, six miles from Kilkenny city. A major open day will be held on the farm on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
What has been happening on this farm has generated a certain amount of talk over the past few months. But the whole operation is up and running now. The farm has been leased for a period of 15 years, starting on January 1 this year.
What are the soils like on the farm? Half the farm is clay loam soil, which means it is free- draining. The other half is a heavy clay soil (15-18pc clay content) with a high water table.
So, what have the people at Moorepark set out as the objectives for this farm? There are several, but in essence, they are built around the following factors:
- To support existing family farms to expand milk production in a financially profitable manner;
- To provide new entrants into dairy farming with the required technology to develop a successful business;
- To demonstrate the financial feasibility of converting a greenfield farm into a profitable dairy farm.
While all the objectives are important, I would imagine that it's the last one that will have most dairy farmers scratching their heads as to the magnitude of the task in hand. But rest assured, the financial budgets have been done and the project does deliver surplus cash in each of the 15 years.
Obviously, milk price will be a huge factor in deciding how much surplus cash is generated and, while the base milk price has been set at 24c/l, the budget has also been done at a milk price of 22, 20, 26, 28 and 30c/l over the life of the lease.
Work began on reseeding the farm in September once all the tillage crops had been removed. Bealey, Tyrella, Abermagic, Dunluce and Aston Energy grass varieties were put in as monocultures. Two kilos of white clover was included with each variety. Personally, I have never recommended the use of monocultures to dairy farmers. It will be interesting to see how these grasses behave after five years. One 70ac block, which had a crop of maize on it, remains to be reseeded this year.