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Making the most of what you have!

Making the most of what you have!

Here Bernie Leahy, Drystock Advisor, Teagasc Galway considers The Parable of the Talents in the Bible, and likens it to Teagasc initiatives such as Signpost Programme and Farm Diversification which encourage farmers to be efficient, not wasteful, changing practices for the sake of the environment

The Parable of the Talents

“The Master had 8 talents, a form of money currency in Greek ancient times. As he had to go away on a trip, he allocated these talents out to his three servants. The first servant got five talents. The second servant got two. The third servant got one.

On the Master’s return the first servant recounted that he had used the talents wisely and got a good return for these valuable resources and improved these investment in his community. The master was very satisfied with his endeavours.

The second servant, though with lesser resources, invested and developed the resources given to him and did bring about a return from his investment of time, labour, which had a ripple effect in his local community also. The master was pleased with the second servant’s efforts.

The third servant, when asked by his Master, what he had done with the one talent, hung his head as he replied that he had buried it. The master was furious and banished the servant for his lack of hope and resourcefulness.

The Signpost Programme farms initiative, which has 7 farms of which 3 are dairy and 4 suckler, “Packs a Punch” in the Teagasc Galway / Clare Client Region.

Teagasc continues its commitment to the beef, sheep and dairy enterprises for the ongoing improvement of all farmers’ incomes in the Region. There are 100 Signpost Farms selected nationally. Their aim is to promote excellence in quality and efficiency on beef, sheep and dairying farms in a sustainable way. 

The DAFM AIMS & Census figures show no overall increase in Galway/Clare Drystock & Dairy Herds

  • Bovine breeding herds in Galway dropped from 8,492 in 2010 to 7,256 in 2020.
  • In Clare, they dropped from 4,890 in 2010 to 4,347 in 2020.
  • Beef Births between both counties dropped from 166,088 in 2010 to 158,030 in 2020.
  • Dairy births in both counties, rose from 49,799 in 2010 to 73,287 in 2020 but are still at half the number of the Suckler Herd calvings in Galway/Clare.
  • Calvings by beef cows were reduced by a small percentage between 2010 and 2020.
  • Sheep flocks remain at 4,000 between 2010 and 2019 with Galway having 10% of national ewe breeding flocks.

A Renewable Future!

The Irish Government need to divert land use to more carbon friendly uses. Renewable initiatives such as wind, solar, energy and alternative crops treated as mainstream farm enterprises.

Barry Caslin, Energy Specialist, Teagasc, is continually promoting Renewable Energy to farmers by means of demonstration events pre-Covid and Farm Business Options Webinars on www.teagasc.ie post-Covid.

Farm Diversification offers a “Niche” market which has not reached its full potential and commands much lower supports from DAFM and EU under Pillar 2 category.

Agri-tourism Staycation Holidays! Have enough initiatives been explored to reduce the “Red Tape” of trying to convert old houses, provision of caravan parking areas, camping areas and forestry walks?. Even the most "lion hearted" of rural-based Entrepreneurs can be disheartened. Some advice and funding is available through Enterprise Ireland Voucher System and the Local Enterprise Office.

Successful Outcome in the Use of the Talents!

Compare The Great Master to Teagasc participation in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019. “Talents” are the changing practises adopted by the seven Signpost farms described.

These Eight changes are:

  • Reduced Ammonia and Carbon emissions, which are warming up the earth.
  • Reducing intense production, stocking rates, and highlighting the value of hedges and clover.
  • Reducing the Nitrogen use by 10% where possible.
  • Combine technology and Soil Sampling for efficient Nutrient Management Planning.
  • Have adequate slurry storage.
  • Replacement rates of 20% with emphasis on earlier culling.
  • Reduced concentrate usage and Crude Protein percentage.
  • Replace 40% Biodiversity reduction by 10% of land diverted to Biodiversity measures.  

These will be guided by Teagasc Advisors and available to all farmers.

Give those farms back to future generations!

Water in our rivers and lakes, peat that we are extracting from our bogs and natural gas from our seabed, building materials such as steel, sand and gravel are all limited resources.

The last talent buried is the kernel of future farming practises.  Be smart and efficient to avoid being “banished” from the face of the earth, as the third servant was!

Teagasc Advisors are regular contributors of articles here on Teagasc Daily. Find your local Teagasc office here