Name: Michael Danagher
Location: Errill, Co. Laois
Enterprise: Pedigree Charolais herd with a number of commercial breeding females with 60% Shorthorn blood and some Charolais and Belgian-Blue influence. 60% of progeny finished on-farm.
This week, we brought all our dried-off cows home; they are on aftergrass and once they have it grazed, they will be housed for winter.
Our calves were delivered and are being fed on a 10-teat blue feeder; they are getting ration and hay and they are being fed twice-a-day on milk replacer.
We cut and baled another field that was too strong for grazing; we brought the bales home and stacked them in the yard.
We cut hedges along the fields and replaced any rotten or broken stakes and we dosed our heifer weanlings and changed then onto new grass; they will also be housed soon.
We are putting all our silage equipment away for the winter and getting our feeding equipment ready for the winter season.
Name: Aaron and Lorraine Delaney - Ballynevin Organic Farm
Location: Co. Laois
A lot of progress was made this week on Ballynevin Organic Farm.We got the last of our slurry out and we got our dung spread; dung and slurry are very valuable to our farm as they are the only source of P and K that we spread on the land.
Our dung has a monetary value of €8/tonne when taking the cost of P and K into account. As our slurry tank is outside, our slurry is watery and this helps with agitation; all slurry is spread using a trail and shoe tanker system or an umbilical pipe system.
This is low-emission slurry spreading and as it’s piped directly onto the ground; there is very little smell and it protects the re-growth of our grass and this will be ready for grazing earlier.
This system also benefits us as we don’t lose any N to the air like you would if you were using a splash plate.
As we are farming organically, this is a huge benefit to us and more importantly, it is an environmentally friendly way of spreading slurry.
The majority of the slurry is spread here during the spring when we get maximum value and at this time of the year, it’s just a matter of making sure tanks are empty to maximise our storage for the coming winter.
On Sunday, we travelled to the Organic Trust AGM in Rock Farm, Slane, Co Meath.
We enjoyed an excellent farm walk and had a delicious organic meal prepared for us. It was a great day out and a valuable opportunity to mingle with other organic farmers and processors and valuable contacts made.
The highlight of the day for us was the Dexter cattle; Tamworth Pigs; the Agroforestry and the excellent talk we had from John Geraghty about sustainable soil management.
He has experience with agriculture all over the world and he shared his knowledge about conservation agriculture; he also lectures in WIT and UCD.
He told us that he works with farmers all over the world farmers farming areas from 1ha-9000ha. We learned a lot and we are delighted we had the opportunity to attend.
At home here, the cattle are still grazing out paddocks beside the river on the heaviest part of the farm. Land is in great order and it’s a great chance to get this area grazed off before closing up for the winter.
Currently, we have 34 days ahead of us grazing for the cattle before we will have to house any stock and if the weather and conditions allow we can stretch this.
On Wednesday, I travelled to Oldcastle, Co. Meath and purchased an additional 40 Easycare lambs and a ram from Dessie Donohoe.
These will be grazed outside all winter and will only be supplemented with organic molasses and minerals.
The jury is out on whether to use a 6-month bolus per month before they join the ram or to continue using mineral blocks - or do both.
This weekend, we hope to attend Limerick Races as we have an interest in a horse that is running there. It's also a good opportunity for a day out and we like to support all positive industries.
We are disappointed with the Budget as it was a clear demonstration of thinking inside the box with no real effort made to grow the organic sector and I see this as a missed opportunity.
With organically farmed land in Ireland less than 2%, we are way behind our counterparts and therefore, need to consider our green image; we need to do our best to hold on to it as it is a valuable part of our marketing policy.
As an Island nation, we need to play the long game and think of where we want our position in the world to be.
As we box above our weight in sport, there is no reason why we can’t do the same in Organic Sustainable Agriculture and be world leaders.
All we need is a vision and the will to pursue what is right for future generations of farmers and consumers alike.
What way do we want to leave our country for future generations? We need to protect our soils and enhance and maintain them.
There is a real opportunity to invest in organic farming systems in Ireland and the payback is good as it is proven organic farms are more sustainable and create more employment in rural areas per ha farmed.