Torrential weekend rainfall levels put farmers under increased pressure

Parts of the country received up to 40mm of rain over the weekend, according to Met Eireann, which has increased the pressure on farms around the country.

Last weekend’s rainfall levels were unusually high for April, it reports, with some locations receiving rainfall levels that would only be seen once a year.

The south of the country, particularly Co. Cork and Co. Waterford were hardest hit by rain, with up to 33m of rain falling at Moorepark and 40.1mm at Cork Airport on Sunday, Met Eireann show.

As a result of the heavy rain, a number of locations in the south of the country have flooded, which is making normal April farming practices impossible in a number of locations.

Over the whole of last week, the midlands received up to two times the usual rainfall levels.

The high rainfall levels followed a Status Orange warning issued by Met Eireann for Cork over the weekend, as 40-70mm of rain were expected.

Sunday’s rainfall levels:
  • Cork Airport – 40.1mm
  • Moorepark – 33.6mm
  • Roches Point – 30.9mm
  • Sherkin Island, West Cork – 33.3mm


Meanwhile, farmers in the west of Ireland had to deal with wintry showers, with a number of locations on higher ground reporting snowfalls on Saturday and Sunday.

snow

ICMSA Dairy Committee Chairperson, Gerald Quain, said that farmers – already suffering under below-cost milk price – were now beginning to accumulate weather-induced costs that were adding to what he said was already “a very precarious financial situation”.

“The lack of grass growth could have very significant implications for milk suppliers – not only for the present but continuing through the rest of the year.

“Many farmers are still housing their cows full-time with the extra work that that involves.

“We’re calculating that 2kg extra of meal per cow per day for an average-sized herd is going to add an extra €1000/month to the existing meal bill.”

Impact on farm

The poor weather over the past few week’s is making things difficult on tillage farms, according to Teagasc Advisor Ciaran Collins.

The Teagasc Specialist said that many farmers are struggling to sow spring barley and only about 15-20% of the crop has been sown to date.

He also said that it will be at least a week before ground conditions improve to allow farmers to get out in the fields to sow the remainder of the spring barley crop.

Slow grass growth rates

Grazing conditions also continue to remain very poor on farms, according to Teagasc’s George Ramsbottom, as farmers are struggling to get cows out to grass.

The Teagasc Specialist said that many farmers were forced to house over the weekend due to the high rain fall levels. Ramsbottom also said that grass growth rates are also back on last year’s levels.

We would expect to see pre-grazing covers of 1,200kg/ha, but what we are seeing on farm are covers of 800kg/ha.

However, Ramsbottom was hopeful that the poor spell is coming to an end, as grass growth rates are starting to pick up.

cows at grass
Cows doing a small bit of damage at grass.

Weather update

According to Met Eireann, the weather is likely to remain unsettled for the remainder of the week, but there are some indications that it may improve next week.

In the next seven days, it is likely to be drier overall, with many parts of the country receiving less than 50% of the normal rainfall for Mid-April.

But, the first half of the week will be windy with heavy rain. Met Eireann says that it is set to ease as the week progresses, resulting in some sunny spells and rain showers.