The aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will pose many challenges for Irish agriculture this year.
We have never experienced such high fertilizer, fuel or feed prices – and they continue to rise. For the first time I needed over 100 euros of diesel to fill my modest VW Caddy van.
Farmers will have no problem limiting nitrogen use in 2022 because they either can’t get it or can’t afford it.
In a way, it’s a wake-up call for all of us as we now need to take some serious care of our manure. Given the prices, liquid manure is likely to be the only fertilizer seen on the fields this year.
Last week I sat down in my office and calculated exactly what fertilizer I would need for my first cut. I have taken into account the manure that has ended up on the silo floor so far.
I also calculated what I needed for the pastures and checked those calculations against my manure supply.
Luckily I have enough to see me through the first cut and the next 2-3 rounds of pasture. Now I only have to take care of the correct setting and calibration of the fertilizer seeder and concentrate fully on sowing.
We talked about this in our discussion group last week – our adviser stressed that fertilizer sowing should be based on soil indices.
If the soil index is 3 or 4, nitrogen along with manure should be sufficient. If the soil index is around 1 or 2, then N, P and K compounds are needed along with manure.
Soil sampling and sticking to the results should save money and produce a high volume and quality crop.
Weighing of the maiden heels was done last week. They had already received their Lepto and IBR vaccines. Before weighing, the tails were shaved and the udders checked for abnormalities.
The batch of 35 was reduced by one because a twin heel with no deck traits was sold out.
The average weight of the 34 heifers was 333 kg, with a range of 285-370 kg. Only two were under 300 kg.
The average DLWG since last November was 0.55 kg.
In the meantime, 85 percent of the cows and heifers have calved. The Friesian calves were ready by March 1st and since then there has been a mix of Belgian Blue and Hereford.
Seven Friesian bull calves are only for sale and should go this week. All my Friesian bull calves were shipped this year.
I finished this spring with 36 Friesian heifer calves on the floor, thankfully with no health issues so far. It is important to me to always have everything clean and fresh with me: feed, straw, bedding, water and air.
The last few days of pleasant spring weather have been very welcome after the rain of the previous two weeks. We had a very good couple of days in the first week of March which allowed me to spread manure on silage soil, 28 units/ac urea on pasture soil and cows on pasture to graze about 20 percent MP.
Unfortunately, cows went back in and didn’t come out until St. Patrick’s Day. The liquid manure was applied with the drag hose and the pipe system.
The breeding season is approaching. Cow and heifer runs are recorded. Cows with excrement are washed out. I selected and ordered a preliminary team of bulls as some bulls were selling quickly.
My plan is to use 50 gender specific straws on the heifers and a select group of trouble free cows that have a record of having trouble free and regular calving.
I also applied for Dairy Gene Ireland bulls. A full TB herd test is scheduled for next Monday so fingers crossed for that.
Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, County Monaghan
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/dairy/dairy-advice/gerard-sherlock-slurry-may-well-be-the-only-fertiliser-land-will-see-this-year-41467570.html Gerard Sherlock: Manure may be the only fertilizer that will be seen in the country this year