‘Irish dairy farmers must play to their strengths’

Irish farmers need to make the most out of our ‘natural advantage’ in grass production, Teagasc’s Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer, Tom O’Dwyer has said.

He was speaking this week at the AgriLand stand on the rain-soaked second day of the National Ploughing Championships.

Asked by presenter and technical journalist Sean Cummins about best-practice grassland management, and if grass is that important, O’Dwyer said: “Our key advantage in Ireland compared to other countries is our ability to grow grass well.”

It is essential to realise this, the Teagasc representative continued; once you get this realisation, you can start to take advantage of it.

“The Teagasc demonstration today aims to highlight the techniques and technologies to get the most out of grass,” O’Dwyer said. He noted that farmers improve this by knowing their soil fertility, soil infrastructure, and so on.

Grass
Tom O’Dwyer, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc

“It is not just dairy farmers taking advantage of this either,” O’Dwyer added, referencing a cattle farmer from Mayo who had upped his grassland management game a year ago.

He explained that the farmer told him that, in spite of the extra workload involved, he had reaped the benefits of his new system and would recommend it to any farmer here today.

O’Dwyer also mentioned the importance of grass measuring, noting that the more research and measuring that is done, the more profit is earned.

In quantifiable terms, for every extra tonne of grass produced by farmers, an additional €180/ha is generated, the Teagasc advisor said.

“We’re not slow at investing in new machinery or buildings,” he said. “But for some reason, Irish farmers are slow in investing in proper grassland management. This has to change for everyone’s benefit.”