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Growth rates took a knock last week – in some parts of the country – due to the lack of rain and soil moisture deficits (SMDs) experienced.

SMDs are highest in the southern half of the country – ranging between 55mm and 70mm – with grass growth worst affected in this area.

However, this is set to improve as, according to Met Éireann, the “coming week’s rainfall profile is likely to be above normal or well above normal due to the expected unsettled conditions forecast”; so it is anticipated that these SMDs will reduce over the coming week.

This is very positive as AgriLand is getting reports of some farmers resorting to buffer-feeding silage in order to reduce the demand on their farms.

In terms of average grass growth rates, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 72kg DM/ha in Ulster, 62kgDM/ha in Leinster, 64kg DM/ha in Connacht and 60kg DM/ha in Munster.

A close eye should be kept on grass growth; once grass growth rates improve supplementation being fed should be reduced and demand matched to grass growth. Walk the farm twice weekly to monitor grass growth rates.

For example: Three cows/ha, eating approximately 16kg of grass, equates to a demand of 48kg of DM/ha. If growth equals 50kg of DM/ha, only minimal supplementation is required.

Advice in low growth rates

If low grass growth rates (less than 40kg of DM/ha) persist, increase rotation length to greater than 25 days.

Any surplus paddocks which have been closed for silage should be reintroduced into the rotation. Graze using a strip wire if the cover is greater than 1,700kg of DM/ha.

Finally, increase meal being fed so that you don’t run down your average farm cover. If silage is required, feed your highest quality bales.

The post Grass growth: Hoping for a speedy recovery appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Boortmalt announced the commencement of of its planned expansion at The Maltings in Athy, Co. Kildare yesterday afternoon, July 17, where work was well underway.

Malt has been produced at The Maltings site in Athy for over 170 years. Yesterday, July 17, the company announced the expansion of its plant in Athy, which it says will secure the future of the malting industry in the country for many years to come.

The plant currently produces just under 100,000t of malt and that figure is set to rise to 140,000t once the expansion is completed in January 2020.

video - YouTube

Speaking at the launch, Peter Nallen – chief operations officer with Boortmalt – stated that the company is committed to Irish growers.

“One of the fundamental, strategic objectives of Boortmalt when it acquired the Irish business of Greencore Malt in 2010 was to source 100% of its malting barley locally; to produce malt locally here in Athy; and to service and deliver to Irish brewers and distillers,” he stated.

The expansion is supported by Axereal – a French farmers’ co-op which owns Boortmalt.

Increase in malting barley will be needed

Running at full capacity, AgriLand estimates that almost 180,000t of green barley will be needed to produce 140,000t of malt.

As a result, Boortmalt has told AgriLand in recent times that growers will have the opportunity to increase their acreage of malting barley if they wish and their may be opportunities to increase the number of growers who supply the company.

In recent years, Boortmalt has been sourcing barley in counties further a field than its traditional catchment area of counties Kildare, Laois, Carlow and Wexford. It has ventured to counties such as Louth, Donegal and Cork.

Peter added that Boortmalt is committed to delivering a fair price for its growers and that it is important that growers receive a fair price for their product and are rewarded for their effort.

Irish malting barley is right up there – world class quality.

“We now need world class quantity and we need to work with the IFA [Irish Farmers’ Association] and all our growers to make sure that happens. The pricing system we put in place and we negotiate on an annual basis is now industry leading. It’s the best pricing system in Europe.”

He noted the investment the company makes in research, most recently the partnership with Teagasc.

“We’re doing our very best to ensure that the collaboration [with Teagasc] will ultimately ensure that our growers have either the first or second most profitable cereal crop on the island.”

That’s in keeping with our ambition to taking into consideration the hard work our growers put into supply here.

Local photographer Robert Redmond was taking photos on the day. He is based across the road, and the canal, from the Boortmalt site IFA says farmers need premium products

Speaking at the tour of the new site, chairperson of the IFA grain committee, Mark Browne commented on the expansion:

“We’re delighted with the expansion, as it will increase the tonnage of quality, premium barley being supplied by growers, which will fall under the pricing structure that we have now.

The more tonnes that are needed the better for farmers, as it will increase premium markets. We need premium markets for the sustainability of the tillage industry.

A host of local politicians were on hand to see the start of the new development. Among them were: Minister of State, Andrew Doyle; TD Pat Deering – chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture; as well as The Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó’Fearghaíl.

Where does all the malt go?

During his remarks Peter stated that: “We wouldn’t be in business without the customers we supply.”

Pat Kennedy – the malting plant manager at Boortmalt – gave some background to what the malt is used for.

“We produce just under 100,000t of malt on this site. Over 70% of that goes into St. James’s Gate in Dublin, so if you drink a pint of Guinness you are drinking Guinness made with our malt, grown with our barley locally.

“So, for us it’s a real success story. Guinness is a global brand, as are Bushmills, Heineken, Jameson and all of the different customers that we have.

We will be expanding by 40%, because the demand is here on the island, particularly with the growth in the distilling industry.

Pat explained that the plant currently has the capacity to store up to 60,000t of barley and 15,000t of malt. The new plant will take batches of 240t at a time and create the extra 40,000t mentioned earlier.

What will the expansion consist of?
  • A steep house containing four conical steeps;
  • Two germinating vessels;
  • One circular kiln;
  • Utilities building.

“The plan is that we will be up and running and in operation by January 2020. The customers need the malt so we’ve a very, very tight schedule,” Pat added.

Timeline to the plan

The start of the development has been long awaited. Boortmalt first announced a plan to increase capacity at its plant by 30,000t in November 2017 and hoped for it to be operational by June 2019.

By March 2018, Boortmalt announced to AgriLand that this expansion was planned to be for an extra 50,000t of barley.

The site for the new plant before work began in Athy

Following a change in land use the way was cleared for planning permission to be sought. This change was discussed at a meeting of the Athy Municipal District in February 2018 and members agreed to the land-use change which allowed Boortmalt to apply for planning permission.

In March 2019, Peter Nallen (Boortmalt’s chief operations officer in Ireland) stated that the company believed that there is room for expansion in the malting industry here in Ireland and it wants this expansion to come from Irish malting barley.

When AgriLand visited the site, in March of this year, much of the equipment was on site and ready to go, as can be seen in the images below. The plant is expected to be finished by January 2020.

The post Watch: Boortmalt starts new development – an extra 40,000t of malt appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Transport services and infrastructure in Ireland is “uneven”, with rural western areas losing out to the east, according to a report from an Oireachtas committee.

According to the Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development, Government departments and other agencies must “work together to ensure planned rural transport projects are funded”.

The report, published today, Wednesday, July 17, makes several recommendations on how this can be achieved.

For too long, infrastructural development has been concentrated in the east. This has resulted in a situation where all roads lead to the capital, but there is poor connectivity between regional areas.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey, who is the chairperson of the committee, said: “The inherent social and economic potential which exists in rural areas has often been overlooked. This has led to a situation where there has been uneven distribution of public transport services in rural areas.

“As well as this, there has been a lack of joined up thinking about transport service provision and connectivity in the regions,” deputy Carey added.

The committee calls for increased funding for national, regional and local roads, and that Government departments work together to ensure that the funding, rather than just planning, is provided.

The committee is also suggesting that the price of a journey on a train or a bus needs to be the same per kilometre in rural areas as it is in urban areas.

Among the report’s recommendations is a specific call to: “Identify and fund new infrastructural developments to resolve over-concentration of road development and public transport in the east the country.”

The report has come about following nine hearings, between the committee and various stakeholders, on the issue of rural connectivity, which took place from 2016 to 2019. A separate report focusing on rail transport in rural areas is set to be released later this year.

The recommendations included in the report are:

  • Increase funding for national, regional and local roads;
  • “Develop synergies” between all Government departments with rural transport responsibilities;
  • Provide morning-to-midnight commuter services linking rural towns to urban areas;
  • A change to the subsidies system for public service operators (PSO) to ensure train and bus fares are the same per kilometre in urban and rural areas;
  • Identify and fund new developments to resolve over-concentration of road development and public transport in the east the country;
  • Develop expansion plans for Local Link services;
  • Include in national transport policy an assurance that services are provided to create demand rather than purely to respond to demand;
  • Expansion of rural, local and regional bus networks;
  • Increase Government funding to the Western Development Commission;
  • Inclusion of the Western Rail Corridor in any policy as a component of any transport development in realising the potential of the western region;
  • Urgently address insurance and regulation issues surrounding new rural transport initiatives;
  • Map out bus route services in all counties and regularly update and publish them in consultation with local communities.

The post Oireachtas report finds ‘uneven’ transport services in rural areas appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Funds from the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme should be for farmers whose “primary enterprise” is dependent on the beef trade, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Edmond Phelan, the association’s recently-elected president, said that the €100 million fund should be directed toward “the lowest farm income sectors”.

“This fund must be for those whose primary farm enterprise is dependent on the state of the beef trade and who have suffered the greatest hardship from Brexit-related price pressures,” argued Phelan.

The expectation from the outset was that finishers and suckler farmers would be the beneficiaries.

Phelan quoted the figures in the recent Teagasc National Farm Survey to highlight the drop in incomes for sucker farmers and beef finishers.

“It is unconscionable to think that money would be diverted from these farmers to dairy farmers who, despite having a relatively bad year themselves, still managed earnings of €61,273 in 2018,” he said.

Phelan claimed: “It defies logic for anyone to lobby for their inclusion in this particular exceptional aid measure.

The difference in annual incomes is clear for all to see, and points directly at where the funds should go.

Phelan also pointed to what he said was the frustration among some beef finishers in the ICSA who are not pleased with the scheme’s details.

“ICSA has many full-time finishers who feel very frustrated that the scheme is limited to 100 animals. These farmers, who are fully dependent on their beef farming enterprise, have seen losses of over €100/head on hundreds of animals,” he stressed.

Phelan argued that the limit of €10,000 (100 animals at €100/head) would “go nowhere near meeting their losses”, and that the limit for finishers should be increased to 200 animals.

This, he argued, would “be of massive benefit to full-time beef farmers and will benefit other farmers by keeping them in business at the mart ringsides”.

The post BEAM should be for farmers whose ‘primary enterprise’ is beef – ICSA appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Josepha Madigan, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is being called on to resign by independent TD Danny Healy-Rae, following her decision not to allow the cutting of hedges on public roads during August.

Yesterday, Minister Madigan revealed her decision not to exercise discretionary powers to allow hedge cutting on roads (except if necessary for road safety), citing biodiversity as the main reason for her decision.

“I wish to condemn Minister Josepha Madigan’s decision not to allow the promised cutting of Roadside hedges in the month of August,” said Healy-Rae.

This is another outrageous attack on the people of rural Ireland trying to travel on narrow country roads, whether it’s pedestrians; cyclists; cars; buses; and commercial and agricultural vehicles, where bushes, briars and trees are almost touching from either side.

“It’s disgraceful to think that this Government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has more appreciation for birds and biodiversity than the people trying to travel our roads,” he added.

“I’m calling on the minister to resign now” the Kerry TD said.

‘Threats to biodiversity’

Announcing her decision yesterday, Minister Madigan said her decision “recognises the increased threats to biodiversity nationally and globally and follows a number of Government initiatives to protect and nurture Ireland’s flora and fauna”.

“Hedgerows are a very important wildlife habitat, providing food, shelter, corridors of movement, nest and hibernation sites for many of our native flora and fauna,” she explained.

The minister highlighted that cutting hedges along public roads would still be permitted for the purpose of maintaining road safety.

Minister Madigan said that she was “happy that this decision strikes the correct balance between the need to protect nature on the one hand and ensure public safety on our roads on the other”.

The post Healy-Rae calls on Madigan to resign after hedge cutting decision appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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The proposal made by Eir as an alternative to the National Broadband Plan has been deemed to be “not feasible” by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The Government was updated today, Thursday, July 17, on progress made towards finalising the €2.97 billion contract for the National Broadband Plan by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton.

Eir proposal

Following on from Eir’s appearance before the joint Oireachtas committee on June 28, the department – in consultation with its advisors and with ComReg – have concluded that the high-level proposal put forward by the company is not a feasible alternative and has no impact on the decision to appoint a preferred bidder to the plan.

Eir was one of the final bidders to the National Broadband Plan and, under these terms, made a draft bid of €2.75billion, excluding VAT, before making the decision to withdraw from the process, according to the department.

The evidence presented by Eir both in the committee and in its subsequent letter to the department “does not meet the tender’s objectives and contains material which has already been raised and dismissed during Eir’s participation in the procurement process”, the department added.

Government response

In a response sent to Eir today, it was outlined that the provision of a state subsidy to any company without competition is not legal under procurement and state aid rules, nor would it meet the key objectives of the National Broadband Plan.

Government today noted this assessment.

Minister Bruton said: “Work is progressing on finalising the contract for the National Broadband Plan.

“It is crucial that we move to sign the contract so that the one million people who today are without access are not left behind.

Digital technology is transforming how we live, learn and work. We must make sure the people of rural Ireland have the same opportunities as those in our towns and cities.

Following confirmation of state aid approval by the European Commission and completion of contract closing requirements, the preferred bidder will be awarded the contract for the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

It is expected that the NBP contract will be signed later this year when all of the legal and financial documentation are finalised with roll out commencing shortly thereafter.

NBP

The NBP will ensure that every home, farm, school and business in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband, no matter where they are located, according to the department.

As a result of the plan, the 1.1 million people living and working in 540,000 premises across the country – including 100,000 businesses and farms, and over 600 schools – who currently cannot access broadband, will have access to a high speed broadband service.

Those 1.1 million people predominantly living in rural areas will have the same opportunities as urban Ireland and will be able to avail of the range of new opportunities that high speed broadband has and will deliver, the department concluded.

The post Broadband plan update: Eir proposal deemed ‘not feasible’ appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Enniscorthy Mart in Co. Wexford has been chosen as the venue for a farm safety and information evening to be held next week, Thursday, July 25.

Organised by the Wexford branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), in conjunction with Teagasc, the meeting is linked to the current series of events being carried out to mark Farm Safety Week, which is this week, Monday, July 15, to Friday, July 19.

The event is “fully knowledge transfer-approved” for the beef, dairy, sheep, tillage and equine sectors.

The event will cover a number of safety issues, including: animal health; trailer safety; and physical and mental health.

As well as farm safety, farmers will also see a demonstration on the safe use of scales for taking weight measurements under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme, and a tutorial explaining how to submit the weight data digitally.

This part of the meeting will be conducted by Teagasc advisors Tom Deane and James Doran, who will also discuss how to go about registering and hiring scales from suppliers, and can answer other queries on the BEEP scheme.

Members of the Gardaí will be on hand to discuss trailer safety, and how to carry out checks on trailers. Issues like road worthiness and the correct load weights will also be touched on.

A driving instructor will also be in attendance to inform farmers how to apply for a trailer test, and what is involved in it.

Trailer safety won’t be the only topic for discussion when it comes to farm equipment. William Shorthall, the IFA’s national farm safety officer, will also discuss safety in the use of tractors, balers, slurry spreaders, agitators and quads.

Other demonstrations and tutorials on the night include:

  • First aid: Treatment of minor injuries and what to do in the event of a serious farm accident, with Paddy Redmond of Red Cross;
  • Fire services: Fire risks in the house and on the farm;
  • Electrical safety on the farm with ESB personnel;
  • Farm insurance with FBD representatives.

The event kicks off at 6:45pm, with doors opening at 6:15pm. Demonstrations will begin at 7:00pm with some light refreshments following the event.

There will also be free hi vis jackets given out, as well as a number of free fire alarms. Furthermore, all attendees will have the chance to win tickets to the National Ploughing Championships in September.

For more information on the event, contact the IFA’s Enniscorthy office on: 053-9233090.

The post Enniscorthy Mart set to host farm safety information evening appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Ireland will oppose the EU proposal to end seasonal clock changes, according to Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan.

The Government has decided not to support any proposal which could result in different time zones on the island of Ireland and disruption to the EU Single Market.

The decision was made following the recommendation of an Interdepartmental Steering Group which included a public consultation exercise.

According to Minister Flanagan, the Government shares the concern of a number of member states that the current proposal may result in a ‘patchwork’ of timezones across the EU.

In the current system, time zones are solely determined by geographic location on an east-to-west basis.

The proposal, as drafted, suggests that each country may choose summer or winter time year round.

The Government noted that this proposal, which could result in member states of similar latitudes choosing different times, could negatively impact the functioning of the the single market.

Also Read: Daylight Savings Time: ‘Clock changes cause 10% drop in milk yield’

The Department of Justice and Equality has led consultations and analysis in Ireland on the commission proposal.

In order to gauge the opinion of the Irish public, industry and other stakeholder groups – and to allow for consideration of any additional or unforeseen implications of the proposal – the department‘s public consultation process comprised an opinion poll, a public survey and submissions from key stakeholder groups.

The opinion poll, conducted by Amárach Research, included a sample of 1,000 respondents aligned with the national population. Over 16,000 responses were received for the survey and over 50 submissions were made by key stakeholders.

Stakeholder submissions received from organisations will be published on the department’s website in the coming days.

The post Ireland to oppose EU proposal to end seasonal clock changes appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Which tractor brands are topping the sales league here in Ireland thus far this year? We’ve delved into the raw statistics to find out.

According to the Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA), 1,378 new agricultural tractors were registered here in Ireland during the first half (January-June inclusive) of this year. That’s an increase of 54 units on the same period of last year.

Also Read: New tractor sales up for first 6 months of 2019, but by how much?

However, the FTMTA doesn’t release brand-by-brand data at this point of the year. Nor are we in a position to release definitive ‘official’ figures.

However, we’ve been sifting through raw registration data (supplied by Motorcheck.ie) to get some early indicators. It must be stressed that this data does contain some anomalies. For example, some entries that are categorised as ‘agricultural tractors’ are not, in fact, agricultural tractors.

We’ve sought to correct these where practical but, given the provisional nature of this data, these numbers should be treated as “indicative” rather than “definitive”.

Brand-by-brand

In any case, John Deere appears to be the top-selling tractor brand here in Ireland thus far in 2019.

The raw data suggests that 343 John Deere ‘agricultural tractors’ were registered during the first six months. However, we’ve stripped out 46 entries from that tally – entries which, upon closer examination, are clearly not ‘agricultural tractors’. Many of these 46 entries are actually utility vehicles.

This subsequently leaves an estimated figure of about 297 John Deere ‘agricultural tractors’. What’s more; this remaining figure still encompasses a small number of what are arguably (non agricultural) ‘compact tractors’.

Image source: Shane Casey

Meanwhile, the raw data suggests that Massey Ferguson was in second place – with 281 new ‘agricultural tractors’ showing up in the registration statistics. Thus far, however, we’ve spotted at least one incorrect (non tractor) entry – to leave a revised estimate of 280. We suspect that there are other incorrect entries (albeit a small number).

Image source: Tim Scrivener

New Holland appears to be in third place. The raw data suggests that 261 of its new ‘agricultural tractors’ were registered during the first half of this year. Within the listings, we’ve identified at least one erroneous (non tractor) entry – to leave a current estimate of 260.

Image source: Justin Roberts

This table (below) collates our current (“indicative” rather than “definitive”) estimates.

Estimated new ‘agricultural tractor’ registrations for January-June (inclusive) of 2019:

* For these brands, it’s largely unclear from the data, at this time, how many ‘agricultural tractors’ were registered

One of the most eye-catching (erroneous) entries (contained within the raw statistics) was a Fendt Rogator 645 self-propelled sprayer. It was categorised as a ‘fire engine’!

The post Table: What are the top-selling tractor brands in Ireland this year? appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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Irish sheep farmers are demanding “a worthwhile premium” of 30c/kg for Quality Assurance, according to the Irish Farmers Association’s (IFA’s) national sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy.

Dennehy was speaking after a meeting of the IFA National Sheep Committee with Bord Bia’s lamb manager Declan Fennell.

He said: “Members of the National Sheep Committee are very clear. The factories have dragged their heels on Quality Assurance with minimal reward or return to the farmer.

If the factories want Quality Assured lamb, they must pay a reasonable reward for it, which covers the time and work input of the farmer and also reflects a premium from the market.

The meeting comes following Irish meat factories being called on by the IFA to “stop the lamb price cuts and stabilise the market at a time when farmers are weaning lambs and finding they are coming in quicker than usual”.

Farmers are not prepared to do all the work but not be properly rewarded for Quality Assurance.

Committee members also told Bord Bia that the Quality Assurance inspectors must adopt a reasonable, farmer friendly, practical approach at farm audits.

Concluding, the IFA sheep chairman said “sheep farmers are disappointed with lamb prices and extremely frustrated and angry with the way factories and retailers have taken additional margin out of the price at the cost of the primary producer”.

The post ‘Sheep farmers need 30c/kg Quality Assurance premium’ – IFA appeared first on Agriland.ie.

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