Roller-coaster grass growth impacting on farm finances
The roller-coaster nature of grass growth in 2012 is proving to be quite challenging. The difficulties and uncertainty which this growth pattern is causing on farms highlights the importance of good grass management, particularly with the recent escalation of farm input costs.
It is easy to forget that it's barely one generation since the traditional skills of good crop and grass management were swept aside by a new breed of young farmers equipped with fertiliser spreaders and tractors.
Now it seems that things are changing again.
Gone is the cheap supply of fertiliser and diesel which drove the Irish version of the 'Green Revolution'. Now it's all about utilising our natural ability to grow great grass in the most cost-effective manner possible. Luckily, this has coincided with a growing consumer demand for naturally-produced food.
On the subject of grass, last week I had a very interesting visit from north Minnesota beef farmer Rick Olson and his daughter Carrie, who were holidaying in Ireland.
Rick produces grass-fed beef sourced from local dairy herds and wanted to visit grass-fed beef farms in Ireland.
It was great to compare systems here and in Minnesota, and also hear how the benefits of grass-fed beef are highly regarded in the United States, so much so that it now commands a premium price.
Recently, I also had the opportunity to attend an agri-food conference in Dublin.