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Kay O'Sullivan July/August Update

Pollinator Project Discovery

Pollinator Project Discovery

  • Pollinator project has been examining biodiversity indicators on the farm
  • An endangered ‘cuckoo bee’ species (Nomada obtusifrons) was identified
  • Kay's farm is providing a valuable habitat for this species
Grass management

Grass management

  • Measure grass weekly
  • Delay cutting paddocks for silage if farm is in a drought until after rain comes
  • Maintain target pre-grazing cover of 1400 kg DM/ha
Reviewing farm finances

Reviewing farm finances

  • Review sales and expenses for the year so far
  • Budget for expected farm sales and costs for the rest of the year
  • Aim to make a profit from the beef enterprise on your farm and to retain all your direct payments


As part of the Pollinator Project through Biodiversity Ireland and the Signpost Programme, Kay’s farm is being monitored monthly for biodiversity indicators. On a recent visit, an endangered ‘cuckoo bee’ species (Nomada obtusifrons) was identified. According to the Biodiversity Ireland website, it is a small to medium sized solitary bee that measure 6-9mm. Its abdomen is mainly red and black but it can have small areas of yellow. The females and males have a flat-topped ridge between the antennae and the males are generally smaller than the females.

The bee was found on an earth bank which is dotted with evidence of holes from solitary bees. The bank has areas of old grasses and native flowers and is located between two grass and multi species paddocks. It is directly opposite a native woodland area which consists of scot’s pine and oak trees. Further information is available at https://species.biodiversityireland.ie/profile.php?taxonId=56939&taxonName=Nomada%20obtusifron&keyword=Bees


Kay measured grass on 20th August. She had a farm cover of 961 kg DM/ha but most importantly, her pre grazing yields are less than 1400 kg DM/ha so the grass quality that cattle and sheep are grazing is optimal. The growth rate is 33 kg DM/ha and the demand is 24 kg DM/ha with 40 days ahead. While there are a high number of days ahead (target <20) and the average farm cover is above the target of 700-800 kg DM/ha there is very little rain forecasted over the coming days. Visually, land is very dry and grass regrowths are slow in grazed paddocks. It is likely that paddocks will have to be taken out for silage when the rain does come, but Kay is happy to leave them for the minute, particularly when the pre-grazing yields are on target.


Kay has reviewed her farm income and expenses for the first 6 months of this year. Income from her cattle and lamb sales appear to be on track when compared with last year which is very positive to see.

Kay has been unaffected by rising concentrate and fertiliser costs this year as she is not permitted to use regular chemical fertiliser and finishes her cattle off of grass without any concentrates. This is also a huge help to her cash flow situation, as most farms incur these costs early in spring resulting in a negative cash flow for a number of months. While a number of bills will be unknown until later in the year (such as contractor, total veterinary bill, sundry costs etc.), Kay is on track to have lower spending on seed and general repairs and maintenance, although she is aware that electricity costs will be higher than last year. She is considering getting some general infrastructure works done around the farm such as fencing and water troughs. These will be priced, but it is positive to see that these works will fit in with the farm’s financial budget, to ensure that a profit is made at the end of the year from the cattle and sheep enterprises. The direct payments from the Basic Payment Scheme, forestry premium, Organic Farming Scheme, BEEP scheme, Sheep Welfare Scheme and BDGP scheme will be fully retained also.