Saturday 17 March 2018

A stitch in time pays off after the second silage cut

Munster Farmer

Kevin O'Sullivan, Teagasc

Following second cut silage there is an opportunity to repair swards that have been damaged by rainfall and poaching during the past year.

Any sward damage that has occurred will reduce grass production over the coming seasons unless repaired. Grassland with low levels of ryegrass will produce less grass yields. These swards will respond poorly to fertiliser and are relatively more expensive to fertilise as nutrients are taken up by less productive weed grasses that may be dominating the sward.

Full reseeds are not financially viable in these situations as a complete reseed will take the field out of the rotation for 2-3 months and would cost €300-€400/acre. Surface seeding offers a short term and cheap alternative to this.

Surface seeding can be done anytime from May to September. All that's required is adequate soil moisture and direct contact between the soil and the grass seed. The more open the pasture the more grass seeds will germinate which fits into the current period for using the method following silage harvesting.

For surface seeding ensure the weather is dry and that the grass is grazed off very tightly or cut for silage. Harrow the field with a light chain/grass harrow. Spread the seeds at 6-8 kgs/acre. Tetraploid seeds should be used as they are bigger and more vigorous to grow than diploids. Recommended varieties include Abergain, Solas and Seagoe. For fertiliser 18:16:12 or 10:10:20 should be applied at two bags per acre and the surface rolled with a light roller. Slurry can also be applied at 1500 gls/acre. The field can be grazed every 18-26 days for the remainder of the year. However do not expect instant results as it may be several months before the new seeds are established. A post emergence weed spray may be requ ired if weeds are a problem. Surface seeding has a number of advantages - the farmer can carry out all the work himself and It does not interfere with the normal rotation. It is also relatively cheap - bag grass seed/acre and the method is successful if carried out in moist conditions. Surface seeding with Italian ryegrass is also successful in Italian ryegrass silage fields.


Moynihan: ‘Urgent need to get more young people into farming’

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Michael Moynihan has said that Irish agriculture faces a difficult future unless more young people can be convinced that farming is a viable and sustainable career.

Deputy Moynihan was commenting after receiving information from the Department of Agriculture which shows a dangerous age imbalance in terms of the numbers of farmers in Ireland.

"Just six per cent of farmers are under the age of 35, while 53 per cent are over the age of 55. These figures, taken from the 2013 CSO Farm Structures Survey, show an underlying imbalance in Irish farm profiles," he said.

Deputy Moynihan said there is "a major challenge coming down the tracks for Irish society to replace older generations of farmers who are due to retire in the next 10-15 years".

"If we want to have locally produced, high quality food, then we will need younger people choosing a career in farming," he said. "We need to support farmers to become more productive, and therefore more viable. It's unfair to expect farmers to earn less than what they put into their farms.

Deputy Moynihan that although there are "some positive programmes" that provide young farmers with education and skills training, more needs to be done.

"How can we ask a young farmer with a family to work for what for all intents and purposes is less than the minimum wage?," he said.

Deputy Moynihan warned that unless Ireland finds solutions to these challenges, "we will see farms lying idle, and Ireland's ability to produce its own food will be greatly diminished".