Teagasc is involved with approximately 100 monitor farms. The majority are associated with a joint Teagasc industry programme. All monitor farms have a physical and financial plan prepared. Monitor farms play host to at least one substantial farm walk per year.
Factors that contribute to monitor farm success include
- A farmer who possesses good communication skills and is recognised as a ‘leading farmer’ in his locality.
- A well prepared plan containing clearly identified physical and financial targets to be achieved on the monitor farm over the duration of the programme.
- Good technical support from the local adviser – focusing on technical and financial areas.
Successful extension of individual monitor farm programmes is achieved by
- Hosting a series of well planned and publicised farm walks on a regions monitor farms.
- Regular messages of the monitor farmers progress through newsletters and supporting co-op publications.
The newly established BETTER farms are based on the same principle with a significantly increased input from applied research.
Dairygold Focus Farm
- Robert O'Dea, Kilteely, Co Limerick - Focus on Early Grass/High Grass Utilisation
Monitor Farms - Teagasc/Kerry Agribusiness Joint Programme 2015-2017
“FOCUS ON PROFIT” Mission Statement:
Will empower our client farmers with:
- up-to-date technical advice
- financial expertise to set and achieve financial goals
- blueprint for profitable and environmentally sustainable farming
- an enhanced quality of life
The Joint Kerry Agribusiness/Teagasc “Focus on Profit” Programme focusses on improving the technical and financial performance of dairy farms in the catchment area. Consistent with the Mission Statement the programme aims to provide Kerry Agribusiness suppliers with tools to increase profit by focusing on sustainable improvements in farm productivity.
The joint programme “Focus on Profit” has the following components:
- Monitor farm programme comprising ten Monitor farms and five Heavy soils farms.
- Discussion group programme with forty four discussion groups.
- Monitoring of grass growth across the Kerry Agribusiness catchment.
- Targeted campaigns on grazing management, soil fertility, milk quality and farm systems.
- Farm Info-Zone initiative to enhance programme participation among all suppliers.
Summary findings Monitor Group:
- Milksolids production of 959kg per hectare at a cost of €2.44/kg was achieved for the group
- Increased focus on soil fertility required – only 10% of soils with optimum overall fertility
- Must develop farm businesses which withstand volatility in milk price
- Consider all costs fully if developing the business – labour, capital, heifer rearing etc.
A new group of ten dairy monitor farms completed their first year of the programme in 2016. These farms were selected to represent a range of farm profiles, geographical spread and stage of development. The names and locations are outlined on the map below, orange boxes. In addition the five heavy soil farms continued in the programme,(blue boxes.)
At their first meeting this group identified some key indicators of success by which they wanted to be measured at the end of the program. These were:
- Increased milksolids per cow and per ha
- More money in the bank account - better control of spending
- Increased confidence in decision making
- More grass grown and utilised from every hectare they farmed
- Happy within the group and achieve a good work-life balanceCurrently the program involves ten Monitor Farms (MF), five Heavy Soils farms (HS) and three mentor farms. The new monitor farms will focus on improving the physical and financial performance of their farms. The Heavy Soils group are now focusing on soil fertility and farm infrastructure while the mentor farmers provide support for the new group and they themselves focus on labour management as their herds expand.
Reflections on the year:
- Extremely wet spring led to less grass in the cows diet which impacted strongly on feed costs
- Annual grass growth of 11.4 tonnes dry matter per hectare
- Introduction of a voluntary milk supply reduction scheme
- Reduced milk price
Teagasc/KerryAgribusiness Monitor Farms 2016-2017
Mark Clune, Drominanov, Feakle, Co. Clare
Padraig Condron, Dullas, Croom, Kilmallock, Co Limerick
Diarmuid Cremin, Cottage, Gneeveguilla, Rathmore, Co Kerry
Adrian Keane, Glanballyma, Kilflynn, Tralee. Co Kerry
Michael McMahon, Kilcarroll, Kilrush, Co Clare
John Molyneaux, Hill Crest House, Farrihy, Dromcollogher, Co Limerick
Dermot O’Connor. Lisbane, Shanagolden, Co Limerick
Paudie O'Brien Ballinvarrig, Firies, Kkillarney, Co Kerry
Philip Ruttle, Fort View, Rathkeale, Co Limerick
Seamus Laffan, Knockanea,Boher,Co Limerick
Heavy Soils Programme Monitor Farms
John Paul Leahy, Upper Athea, Co Limerick
John O'Sullivan, Ballygree,Castleisland,Co Kerry
Donal & Michael Keane, Droumerin, Listowel, Co Kerry
Danny Bermingham, Doonbeg, Co Clare
Sean O'Riordan, Knockenaught, Kiskeam, Co Cork
Mentor Farms Joint Programme
Conor Creedon, Shrone, Rathmore, Co Kerry
John McNamara, Gormanstown, Hospital, Co Limerick
Padraig McCarthy, Ahabeg, Lixnaw, Co Kerry
For more information contact: Ger Courtney