Thousands flock to Teagasc open day to see Solohead's 'heavy soils' programme
Memories of a torrential 1947 were recalled as more than 2,000 farmers attended a recent Teagasc Open Day at Solohead Farm, Co Tipperary.
Hundreds arrived up to an hour before the official start, indicating their anxiety for solutions to the current waterlogged conditions being experienced on heavy ground.
Despite the downpours throughout the day, Teagasc's area manager, Donal Mullane, and Tipperary Co-op's general manager Ted O'Connor were kept busy taking farmers through the heavy soils programme being run by Teagasc, Tipperary, Kerry and Dairygold co-ops.
Soil analysis shows that 42pc of farms in Co Limerick are of the heavy soil type. Similar soils account for 37pc of farms in Clare and 26pc in Kerry. For this reason, there are seven commercial farms in counties, Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, in addition to the research farm at Solohead, involved in the programme.
Dr Pat Dillon, head of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland programme said that wet soil conditions are the most important factor in the utilisation of grazed grass on Irish farms. "Almost half of the agricultural land in Ireland would benefit from reclamation and drainage," Mr Dillon said. "30pc of milk produced in Ireland originates from farms classified as having heavy soils, so managing heavy soils is particularly important for the growth of the dairy sector in Ireland."
There was particular interest in the drainage trials being carried out on the farm and the ongoing study of the economics of different systems.
John Donworth said that even with best management it has not been possible to maintain dairy yields in 2012. "The 10pc production decline normally expected for the month of July was experienced over a few days at the start of the month, despite concentrates being fed and a forecast that nationally production will be well below quota by the end of the month," he said.