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The year 2008 was a difficult one for the farming community. Inclement weather severely affected grass production, silage making and cereal yields leading to increased costs and overall reductions in farm incomes. Dairy and cereal farmers saw product prices decline significantly from the high levels experienced in 2007. In the drystock sector, beef prices increased in 2008, whilst sheep prices remained static resulting in a further decline in ewe numbers. A sharp increase in farm input costs added to reduced profit margins in all sectors particularly for the intensive high input systems dairying, cereals, pigs and poultry producers. Despite the decline in profit margins farmers continued to invest at record levels in buildings and machinery to ensure compliance with good farming practice and environmental regulations. Farmers, farm planners and the agribusiness sector require accurate and up-to-date data on agricultural outputs, inputs and policy changes in planning their business. Income estimates for 2008 will provide a base for production intentions in the coming year. The results of a survey on farmer’s investment plans for 2009 will be presented. More importantly, the outlook for the dairy, beef, sheep, pigs and crops sectors in 2009 will be critical to making informed planning decisions for the short to medium term.

09 December 2008
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Nutrient Management on Organic Farms

The management of nutrients in organic farming systems presents a formidable challenge, as the use of inorganic fertilisers is not permitted. Therefore organic farmers must optimise a range of soil, crop, rotation and manure managements to ensure a nutrient supply which will guarantee optimum crop yields and minimise losses to the environment. To achieve this objective, an appreciation of the nutrient cycles in farming systems is essential.

01 December 2008