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Farming News - Louis Murchan

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Soil Samples:-  Where soil samples are due for renewal and the participant has more than one year remaining in the scheme, soil samples must be taken in accordance with the Nitrates SI (one sample/8ha max) and an adjusted plan submitted. 

Where samples are due for renewal and the participant has less than one year remaining in the scheme the participant has a choice: 

a)     Take the samples and submit an adjusted plan

b)     For the year in which the samples expire assume Index 3 on all lands unless a previous sample showed Index 4 in which case that land must continue to be treated as Index 4 until a new sample indicates otherwise. In this case, no P or K can be applied to land until REPS plan is complete.

Payments:-  756 farmers awaiting some or all of 2012 payment, 29270 due to be paid in 2013 (75% of payment in Nov / Dec).  12,000 approx finishing REPS 4 in 2013, 16998 finishing in 2014 and 851 finishing in 2015

Fertiliser application

The last allowed application of chemical fertiliser for 2013 is the 15th of September unless there is an extension by the Minister of Agriculture. This deadline will be very quick coming so every farmer should target areas on the farm that they will fertilize before this deadline and get it applied in a bid to build up reserves on the farm that can be grazed if the weather allows. This will all help to reduce the fodder shortage for the up and coming winter.


Whole Crop Silage
Though not common in the South West, this is a concept that could be looked at in the future.

Harvesting:- Harvesting should not take place until after the cereal grain has progressed beyond the milky-ripe growth stage – until it has at least reached the soft-cheddar consistency (i.e. above 35% DM).
The crop nutritive value is effectively constant from the “soft-cheddar” stage until the cereal grain has reached the hard-cheddar consistency (approx. 55% DM) – this is a window of almost three weeks.
A direct-cut precision chop harvester is preferable. Minimise losses during harvesting and ensiling. Trailers should have solid sides and backs to avoid grain losses.
Crops cut with high stubble will have lower yields but higher feeding value. Crops cut with low stubble will have higher yields but lower feeding value.   A short chop length (c. 2.5cm) will help reduce aerobic deterioration.

Ensiling:- Preservation should be straightforward. Silos need to be filled quickly.
High DM will limit effluent discharge.
Whole crop needs to be well-compacted and weighed down. Double sheet the pit to prevent aerobic fermentation.
A narrow pit is preferable to reduce aerobic deterioration.
Results from Grange indicate losses during feed-out are no greater than with grass silage, where good management practices prevail. Additives may be used where WCC silage is being used as a buffer feed in late spring or early autumn.  The silo should be protected from wildlife such as birds, rodents etc. Laying down bait around pits is important.

Rodent control
We are heading into the end of the year so it is time to start laying bait boxes and rodent control. It is extremely important to always lay rat and mice bait as if they start to become a problem around your yard they are extremely difficult to get back under control as they have a very high breeding rate. A rat can have up to 10 litters in a year and they reach sexual maturity at five weeks of age. 

When selecting bait points it is important to keep them in dull shaded areas as rodents don’t like to be in an open exposed area. You always should have a bait point near your meal storage facilities. As part of your Bord Bia Quality assurance and your Cross Compliance regulations every farmer has to have a rodent control plan in place on the farm and a layout drawing showing the exact locations of the bait points.

Grass monitoring
Coming to the end of the major growing season farmers now should be monitoring there grass situation. Farmers should be assessing how much their animals are eating a day. This will give you a rough idea of how many days grass are in front of your animals. At this time of the year you should báe aim to have 15 to 20 days in front. You should plan what ground will be grazed next and apply fertilizer after this rotation to create a grass bank for the autumn.

Straight Nitrogen is the best value at this time of year as compound fertilizer would not be cost efficient. The P and K value of the fertilizer would not be fully utilized at this time of year due to the slowed growth.

Interim N & P Statements announced: No change to slurry storage calculation at inspections

Farmers in REPS 4 who are receiving ‘Double the difference’ penalties for claiming excess areas in Natura on their REPS plan which were drawn up under eREPS should appeal.  Appeals can be made to the Department of Agriculture, and if refused, may be also appealed to the Agricultural Appeals Board, but, the Department must first have refused an appeal.  The rate of clawback in REPS 4 is the Average payment rate for the individual farmer rather than the lowest rate of payment on the farm. REPS Circulars 15 and 16 / 2010 state: Reimbursement of aid already paid shall be at the relevant payment rate for the land concerned. Interest shall apply at the rate provided for under Statutory Instrument 13/2006 or any amendment thereof.

Sheep Notes:- Preparing the ram for mating

While much attention is often given to the ewes, the ram can be easily forgotten until very close to mating. The old phrase that the ram is half the flock still holds true today. It is therefore important that the ram receives attention as soon as possible. Why examine the ram? The ram should be examined to identify problems that reduce ram fertility and his ability to work. It is important to do this on time so that action can be taken to rectify any problems. This will help to reduce the number of ewes repeating and therefore lead to a more compact lambing spread in spring. A 10 week pre-mating examination allows enough time to: improve body condition;

address any health problems; and, buy replacements and allow these to acclimatise to their  new surroundings and conditions.

Work out your critical 10 week pre-mating date. If you hope to commence lambing on March 10, the ram must be introduced on October14. The ram should be examined closely 10 weeks prior to this, which is August 5.

Sores and infection:- Sores in areas such as the feet and legs, brisket, penis or prepuce (sheath around the penis) will discourage the ram from mating. Infection anywhere may raise body temperature and render the ram infertile. Simple checks to prepare the ram for mating.

Body condition: should be a score of 3.5 to 4 at the start of the breeding season.

Head, neck and shoulders: check for signs of fighting or swellings of any sort.

Eyes: check for signs of infection or anaemia.

Teeth: check incisors and molars, and avoid rams that have undershot or overshot jaws.

Bord Bia: Quality Assurance Schemes Inspections:
Farm audits take place every 18 months approximately and many take place during summer months, so if you are due an inspection this year, be prepared.

Auditors expect you to have all paperwork and records up to date, including:

• Feeds purchased & fed to stock,

• Medicines purchased and administrated to herd or flock,

• Own feed produced & Grazing programme.

• Disease prevention plan,

• Rodent control plan,

• Safety Statement or Risk Assessment.

None of this is complicated, and most is easily completed in the record booklet provided.  Normally, these auditors give a few days notice, and are reasonable people, so if you are not ready on the first day suggested, they will give you a few days to be ready for their arrival.


For further information, contact: Louis Murchan – (087) 2857938






Read 15157 times Last modified on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 11:11

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