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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Less first-cut silage made in 2023

There has been, on average, 15% less first-cut silage area harvested in 2023 compared with 2022, with the range from +10% to -66% depending on the location/county.

That is according to an FCI-led survey, the findings of which were presented to the National Fodder and Food Security Committee this week.

To support the work of the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) as part of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee, FCI undertook the survey of members to identify any changes in first cut silage harvesting output in 2023 compared with 2022.

The survey was carried out by means of WhatsApp messaging among the 350 members of the FCI agricultural contractor WhatsApp group in week 29, commencing on July 17th, 2023.

2023, the body notes, has been a “difficult year so far” for agricultural contractors following almost two months (March and April) of heavier-than-normal rainfall across many areas across the country, which has now been followed by one of the wettest July months on record, as confirmed by Met Éireann this week.

This was against the backdrop of heavy rainfall and good growing conditions “bulking up” second-cut silage crops on many farms.


The results of the FCI Silage Contractor Survey 2023 are as follows:

  • Second-cut silage yields are bulking up well, while the baling campaign has been significantly interrupted in the western region due to recent persistent rainfall conditions and FCI members are concerned that poor silage quality may become an issue;
  • There are regional differences from the survey results. The western dry stock farming area is showing the biggest decrease in silage acreage harvested and that includes bale silage numbers and volumes of pit silage;
  • FCI members have noted that stock numbers have fallen in the western region with a resultant lower silage requirement.
  • This is also being reflected in less cattle slurry required to the spread in 2023 compared with 2022 due to lower stock numbers;
  • FCI members have also noted that less fertiliser was used on farms in 2023 compared with 2022 as more farmers have joined the Organic Farming Scheme, as now, “they give a better albeit somewhat temporary financial return”;
  • In the intensive dairy farming areas of the south and east, there has been little carry-over of silage stocks from 2022, due in part to some drought conditions in May/June, resulting in an effective 20% shortfall in silage supplies.

According to the body, this FCI Silage Contractor survey represents about 10% of the first cut silage harvest based on a total area of more than 385,000 ha of silage crops at shown in the CSO Census of Agriculture 2020, based on an average output of 800ha (2,000-acres) harvested per contractor in the sample.

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