Teagasc National Crops Forum focuses on forages and co-operation between Tillage farmers and Livestock farmers
The Teagasc National Crops Forum, which is taking place in the Killashee Hotel, Naas, Co Kildare today, Tuesday, 11 September from 2pm to 5.30 pm, is focussing on the opportunities for tillage farmers to integrate forage crops profitably on their farms.
“The cost of grass establishment necessitates a longer term contract between the livestock and the tillage farmer, but can be beneficial for both individuals in the long term”
2018 will live long in the memories of both the tillage and livestock farmers due to the extremes of weather. A cold and wet spring hampered crop planting until late April which was followed by a drought, all of which resulted in a reduced growing season and lower yields. “Livestock farmers experienced similar problems to tillage farmers with forage shortages in the first half of the year, added to by the poor grass growth through the year,” said Joe Patton, Teagasc Dairy Specialist. “Forage stocks are tight in the east and south of the country and acute in many south east areas,” added Joe. The Crops Forum looks at the forage opportunities which exist year on year for the tillage farmer and how these can be fully utilised by both the tillage and livestock farmer. “A variety of forages can be used, including whole crop wheat, maize and beet, while grass is not traded as frequently by the tillage farmer,” said Joe. “The cost of grass establishment necessitates a longer term contract between the livestock and the tillage farmer, but can be beneficial for both individuals in the long term,” added Joe.
Dan Clavin, Teagasc organic specialist, made a strong argument for the inclusion of red clover/ryegrass mix, as an alternative to grass silage. “Red Clover swards produce as much Dry Matter as pure grass stands, but with no nitrogen inputs and result in a higher protein feed especially in the second and third cuts of silage,” said Dan. “This crop needs careful management to achieve good sward persistency, which is something tillage farmers will be excellent at achieving,” he added.
James Ashmore, a farmer from south Kildare, told the forum he switched some of his tillage area to short term grass to supply hay to a local market and the margins from the venture are comparable to other tillage crops on the farm. “I intend to increase the area over the coming years and move to a nine year rotation which I think will maintain high yields on the farm and maintain a high level of profitability,” said James.
Due to the recent increase in grain prices there was keen interest in the prospects for grain prices for the coming season. James Nolan from R&H Halls, outlined the world supply and stocks situation. “The stocks to use ratio of both wheat and barley are now quite tight but less so for maize. The upward movement in prices earlier this month are stalled for the moment as maize prospects are good around the world,” said James. “Prospects for the coming few months are more on the bullish side, with China increasing imports, while exporting regions have lower availability of grain. However a good global maize harvest and the devaluation of currencies (Russia & S. America) may help stabilise the current market.”
Variety selection for the coming season is keenly discussed by farmers every year, and this year is no exception, with the potential loss of some key fungicides. John Joe Byrne, Crop Variety Evaluation, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine outlined the results of the latest trials contributing to the recommended variety lists. “Similar to farmers, we had variable yields in the trials across the country but the data is valuable to feed into the final list of varieties for 2018 this year,” said John Joe. The final Recommended lists for 2018/9 will be available shortly.
All of the forum presentations will be available on www.teagasc.ie/publications .
The forum is a DAFM approved Knowledge Transfer Tillage National Event for farmers involved in discussion groups and IASIS points are available.