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Farmers Principal Concerns this Spring

28 June 2024
Type Media Article

Andy Ryder, Drystock Advisor, Teagasc Westport

Similar to all advisors, I have been in contact with most of my farmer clients over the past few months. The majority of these are drystock farmers. Every farmer had their own individual queries relating to their farm.  I am going to briefly address the main queries that have arisen this spring.

Weather Related Queries

By far the biggest issue on farms this year is weather. Fodder quality conserved last year in many cases was back on previous years. On some farms there was fodder shortage, leading to increased meal feeding. Straw was difficult to get and there were a lot more animal health problems. All this led to increased workloads on farms this spring.

The financial and mental stress that individual farmers were put under this year cannot be underestimated. How can these issues be addressed?

  • Changing calving / lambing dates.
  • Changing silage cutting dates. Increase the amount of silage to be made, do a fodder budget.
  • Better slurry management.
  • Changing farm system or carrying less breeding stock.
  • Changes in housing of animals.
  • Look for some help next spring.
  • Engage in financial planning.

Many farmers needed to know if making changes to livestock numbers at farm level, will it affect schemes such as SCEP or the sheep welfare scheme. In most cases, farmers wanted the situation explained and advice on how to comply with scheme requirements without penalties, or guidance on the procedure to exit a scheme.

Fertiliser / Nitrates

There was many queries regarding fertiliser type and quantity. Every farm will have different nitrogen and phosphorus allowances determined by:

  1. Are there Soil samples results available?
  2. Farm stocking rate.
  3. Has part of the farm limited or no fertiliser allowances such as Extensively Grazed Pasture or Low Input Grassland in ACRES.
  4. Slurry imports.
  5. Land classified as peat soil.

The main advice is to consult your advisor as soon as possible regarding the fertilizer limits on your farm.

Scheme requirements

Over the last 18 months, the direct payment scheme and a raft of new schemes have undergone major changes. Each scheme has many moving parts, and farmers are confused by the name changes and different thresholds to meet each year.

Many of the applications and correspondences are done online, and for some farmers, this is an issue. The main queries are what needs to be done in 2024 and when.  Again, the main advice is to follow up on any correspondence you receive and complete any scheme requirements well in advance of the closing date. For example, every SCEP farmer needs to complete an online training course by 15 November 2024.


Presently, most farmers inquire about improving their farming infrastructure, such as animal handling and fencing. Most farmers look for help in design/layout, costings, and timeframe of when work needs to be completed.  Main points to note:

  1. TAMS 3 is available for applications till 2027.
  2. If planning permission is required, it needs to be granted before making a TAMS application.
  3. No work is allowed to be carried out until approval is received.

Succession Planning/Herd Number Change

These conservations occur all year round, and a smooth transition from one generation to the next requires planning. Land transfers can occur all year around, while changes in herd numbers usually occur before the next year's BISS scheme deadline. In recent years, things have been busier as a result of:

  1. Young Farmers scheme (CISYF)
  2. No clear successor available so farmers looking at options such as leasing part or all of the farm on a long-term basis.
  3. Inheritance (Gift) tax thresholds and stamp duty.
  4. A lot more work in transferring the farm as all schemes associated with the farm also have to be transferred.

Other queries such as water quality, agriculture emissions, organics and forestry are coming up all the time and we have dedicated advisors in Mayo who are available to discuss these queries.

It has been a difficult first half of the year in 2024 so try to take some time away from the farm and recharge the batteries. Best of luck in the coming months.