Milder spring weather to drive hive of activity on Irish farms

Dry weather is promised for the week ahead with good sunny intervals meaning tasks like slurry spreading, fertiliser spreading and ploughing will be back on farms.

However, with the first real signs of spring it’s important to remain vigilant and safe on the farm, as it’s one of the most dangerous times of the year on farms.

For the first half of the week, it’s forecast to be mild by day with highest temperatures of 10 to 14 Celsius.

It will be coolest along southern and eastern coasts, while the nights will be cold, with frost where breaks in cloud persist.

Ground conditions look set to finally improve, with Met Eireann forecasting rainfall-totals up to March 20 to be less than 5mm for the bulk of the country.

These totals will be more in the range of 10 to 15mm along Connacht’s western coast and Donegal.

It’s been a cold spring so far with mean temperatures around 2 degrees below average, but there’s an improvement on the way this week.

Met Eireann expects a rise in temperatures with values exceeding 11 or 12 degrees on most of the coming days.

Little rainfall coupled with the milder temperatures will result in good drying conditions. Meanwhile, the lighter winds will provide opportunities for effective spraying.

Pasturebase Ireland, the Teagasc grass measuring service, has said that while growth rates are down at the moment by 50% and more in parts, growth will pick up this week.

According to its Twitter account, soil temperatures are rising and days are getting longer so growth will pick up.

With activity about to pick up on farms there is an increased likelihood of accidents occurring, so it’s really important to be vigilant.

The data around farm accidents shows that the majority of farm accidents occur between nine and six in the day with the most happening between 11 and 12 o’clock in the morning.

But an hour later, between one and two sees very few accidents happen – more than likely because farmers are in having their dinner.

There are very few accidents before nine in the morning; despite a farmers day beginning earlier. This may indicate that tasks with risks are not undertaken earlier in the day.

McNamara said that this also suggested that farmers are more alert and nourished early in the day.

Another pattern was the day of the week. Most accidents happen on a Friday, then Saturday, then Sunday. Tuesday and Wednesday were the days when less accidents happens on Irish farms.

“It’s about managing work so that farmers don’t get overloaded. Between 1993 and 2014, 2014 had the highest number of deaths,” he said.