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Tuesday 17 July 2018

VIDEO: Attention to detail key to a good crop, says 520ac tillage farmer

FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Attention to detail is the secret to getting a good crop, according to Tipperary Tillage farmer Noel Delany

He says admits the weather has its ups and downs and can effect tillage farmers.

But he says farmers must get the basics right.

“If you get the soil structure, soil fertility and the seeding rate right most things will fit into place and you will get the yield at the end of the day.

“It’s a love of looking after crops year after year. I would find it very hard to get involved in cows or livestock.

“I’m passionate about the job we do so when it comes right we are delighted,” he says.

Noel Delany from Fethard, Tipperary has a 520-acre tillage farm and grows winter barley, wheat and oats.

His 20 year-old son Gavin works on the farm while studying Agri-Business.

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The Delany's mill their own grain to sell to local farmers. Noel also produces oats for Flahavan’s porridge. 

Harvest time is extremely busy on the Delany farm but once the harvest is over it all starts again.

The Delany's decision to start the farm-to-farm trading business was prompted in part by Gavin returning from college.

"Gavin did an Agricultural Management degree in CIT [Cork Institute of Technology] and we were looking at ways we could add value to our own crops and supply local beef and dairy farmers," Noel says.

"So we started off rolling barley, wheat and oats and selling it in 500kg bags and in bulk."

That was in November 2014 and they ended up selling around 250t of grain from that year's harvest.

The response from farmers who used the feed was good and this was reflected in the sales from the 2015 harvest which grew exponentially, almost topping 2,000t.

"The word back from farmers on our feed has been really positive," he explains.

In rural communities word of mouth is the best advertising - "it gets around like wildfire," as Noel points out - and return business and referrals have been critical to growing the business.

Keeping the offering simple has also helped.

The Delanys started by simply selling dried and rolled barley, wheat and oats.

"We have been drying grain since 1981, we have the storage, so we bought a portable Wakely roller and started up."

Last year the Delanys began treating grain, using the product Home 'n Dry. The grain is rolled, treated and ensiled for three weeks in a bay under plastic.

This curing process increases the protein content of the grain from around 10pc to 14pc, while the ammonia smell puts off pests such as crows and rats.

"The treated grain has proven very popular with beef and dairy farmers," Noel says.

In 2016 Noel won Tillage Farmer of the Year at the Zurich Farmer of the Year Awards (he previously won it in 1984). 

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