Why my focus this year is work and efficiency on the farm
I was recently asked how I will be more sustainable in 2023. For me, it’s all about getting the job done and making things as efficient as possible.
y goal is to make the farm slimmer for me, my wife Catriona, my father and my uncle.
This started with an upgrade of our milking facilities – we have 180 cows that need to be calved in the spring. We expanded the milking parlor and dairy and installed a new tank and draft area.
This means improved cow flow and handling, saving time in the milking parlour. I also plan to phase out cattle farming, which will reduce herd groups from six to three. This year tillage is reduced to a field in the outer block where tillage is used as a method of refreshing the land before it transitions back to grass.
They say the best plans go awry and unfortunately that’s true of our farm at the moment. It’s still a mess, the cows have started to calve and the milking parlor isn’t working, there’s no hot water, the fencing needs to be sorted, etc.
The learning for me would be to use a prime contractor to do the work rather than trying to coordinate the work directly and relying on friends/people I know.
I have previously worked as a builder/plasterer and I find it difficult to hold myself back and invite someone else. I got it in my head that it’s a lazy time of year, but there’s no such thing as a lazy time anymore. It’s going to be messy for a week or so. I tackle the jobs I can and I put pressure on the guys to get the work done.
I had it in my head that it’s a lazy time of year, but there’s no such thing as a lazy time anymore. It’s going to be messy for a week or so. I tackle the jobs I can and I put pressure on the guys to get the work done.
Another goal for this year is to get as many grazing days as possible. I know the cows will benefit from a production and health perspective. The more days my cows are out on the pasture, the better the milk solids I get.
Grazing days require grass and it is important to overseed the soil. In recent years, 15-20 percent of the farm has been reseeded. The plan for this year is 10-15 depending on growth and the inclusion of clover in the mix.
I can see how the growth is by measuring the grass and using Pasturebase and that will decide when I can overseed.
Nutrient management through manure and fertilizer is another way to be more sustainable this year. I bought proprietary urea and will use it year round. I’ve used it for the last few years and have been happy with it. This is my sixth year with LESS. The first year I used a contractor, then I bought a trail shoe. I would not return.
I had my liquid manure tested as part of the signpost program. This made me realize the value of manure and especially polluted water. Knowing the nutritional value allows me to plan where to spread to get the best use of the nutrients. I’m planning on applying around 2,000-2,500 gallons/ac of slurry late January/early February.
At this point, I’m getting a better value of the nutrients than when I used it earlier.
Shay Ryan farms near New Ross, Co. Wexford and his Teagasc advisor is Kay O’Connell
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/dairy/dairy-advice/why-my-focus-this-year-is-on-labour-and-efficiencies-on-the-farm-42319751.html Why my focus this year is work and efficiency on the farm