Farmers are being urged to spread fertiliser on grassland for grazing and “particularly for” first-cut silage.
That was the key message conveyed at the second meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee yesterday (Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022).
The National Fodder and Food Security Committee represents over thirty organisations. Its aim is to work to support the national response to the unfolding feed, fertiliser, and energy supply issues.
Its chairperson, Mike Magan, said:
“For every 1 tonne of grass dry matter not grown, that equates to 4 million tonnes of grass across the country. We need to spread fertiliser to grow the grass and the next two weeks are the most critical.”
The state agency confirmed that stocks nationally are estimated to be reduced year-to-date versus 2021.
However, a clear message was communicated that there are “adequate supplies to meet farmers’ spring requirements”.
The committee encouraged all farmers to review requirements over the next two months. It urged farmers to secure fertiliser supply if not already in place.
Spread fertiliser on grassland
Director of Teagasc, Professor Frank O’Mara, pointed out that fertiliser spread in late March and early April will give a higher response than other times of the year.
He said: “We currently have a busy programme of face-to-face farm walks underway, including Signpost farm walks, Grass10 clover farm walks, beef farm walks and tillage crops walks, giving us a huge amount of contact with farmers.”
“We are using these opportunities to emphasise the importance of putting in place nutrient management plans to set up the farms to grow the grass required for the year. “
Attendees also discussed the DAFM’s recently announced Tillage Incentive Scheme, which incentivises farmers to grow additional tillage crops.
In recent days, Minister McConalogue also confirmed funding for a Multi-Species Sward Scheme and Protein Crops.
“There is a good weather forecast for the weeks ahead. This committee sends a positive message to the industry to respond and make this initiative a success by making sure there is strong uptake by farmers and the funding is fully availed of.”
Pigs and poultry farming
The continuing difficulties pig and poultry producers are experiencing due to higher feeds costs were also discussed.
Attendees highlighted the “valuable” contribution the sectors make to the national economy.
Teagasc pig and poultry specialists continue to work with individual producers and the sector at a national level to “try and find solutions”.
Furthermore, the committee confirmed that it is formulating a “unique” plan involving all the pig supply chain.