The last month on the farm has been filled with the usual mid-summer jobs, plus a few small projects to keep us busy.
The focus was on emptying all liquid manure tanks and mucking out the stables. Two weeks ago, after a few wet days, we decided to focus on spreading manure on the silage floor and part of the pasture areas that were grazed bare by the suckler cows.
Some years the last manure was only applied here on the farm a few weeks before the due date, but this year the manure had to be better utilized with a fertilizer at an all-time high price.
After the winter, about 70 loads of manure were left in the tanks and the silage soil was covered at 2,000 gallons per acre while the pasture soil got 1,000 gallons per acre.
We filled the tanks with 10 loads of water before we started stirring the slurry to make it as watery as possible before spreading. We still only use the splash plate on our own pool so had to watch the weather to distribute it on a few wet days.
It’s also a huge relief to get that job out of the way at this time of year and not have to worry about it being terminated next October. As in the other years, this year we used the liquid manure and manure as well as possible and covered as much ground as possible.
I reduced chemical fertilizer a bit this year, but even at this stage you wouldn’t need soil samples to see the difference on the farm where fertilizer was restricted. It can be clearly seen that the grass growth in these fields is not as good as in other years.
In the future, with high manure prices on cattle and sheep farms, a decision must be made between applying the same amount of manure at a higher cost, or reducing stocks and trying to get better results from the remaining animals.
We also cleaned all the stalls that were straw-bedded for either calving or lambing, as well as the peat shed used for weaning.
We also almost pressure washed them which gives them a great chance to dry for next year’s winter. With disinfectant later in the year it should kill as many germs as possible.
Since we have our own manure spreader, I decided to spread all the manure while we cleaned the sheds. I’ve been doing it this way for the past few years and it’s worked really well.
About 25 percent of the farm is deep and has a peaty soil type that can get very wet in winter. So at this time of year I sprinkle a light layer of manure over this land.
I graze it bare with the suckler cows in early August and apply a light layer of manure after this grazing.
Again, after a few days of rain and good growing conditions, the grass seems to pull the manure into the ground, but if there is a layer of grass when the manure is applied, it just rises with the grass and can be a disaster.
I’ve found that garden manure has turned this country upside down. It is a soil that was newly seeded about 10 years ago and is only fertilized once at the beginning of the grazing season.
Although this land is difficult to farm and is only available for about seven months of the year, it can feed many animals in the summer and is very beneficial when the silage floor is closed and animals can be converted in this area.
In the last few weeks we have caught up on all the fencing work around the yard.
Again, there is a cost to the farm, especially when materials such as stakes and wire increase in price. I think it’s money well spent as you can manage inventory more easily and have peace of mind when street hedges are well fenced.
I used PDM’s 6ft stacks and the high tenacity sheep wire with two strands of barbed wire on top. Good stakes are now over $10 each, but as we have learned they will just rot on the ground after a few years if you don’t use good stakes.
So I think it’s best to look at the job as a long-term investment, especially if the job is done on your own land.
John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/john-joyce-yard-manure-has-turned-my-land-inside-out-41896515.html John Joyce: Stable dung turned my country upside down