Making silage as the sun 'Shines' in Limerick

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Making silage as the sun 'Shines' in Limerick

Derrick Shine, of SJS Agricultural Contracting, Adare

IT WASN’T just the soaring temperatures that had Limerick contractors in a sweat last week – pressure was on to cut silage before the weather broke.

One of those working from dawn to dusk was Derrick Shine as silage season began early. He has taken over the once large-scale agricultural contracting business his father Samuel started in 1980 in Adare. Samuel operated three self-propelled harvesters and eleven silage trailers along with many more large scale machinery.

Derrick said the pressure was on last week due to the expected rain which was badly wanted.

“We have picked up just over 300 acres so far this year for first cut. The crops are heavy in places depending on reseeding and closed periods. The mild winter helped with the sward quality for first cut. The importance on making good quality silage is vital when you need your animals to maximise production in winter but it will also keep your concentrates bill down whether you are beef or dairy farming.

“The single most important thing for a farmer to consider at harvest time is his or her quality. You’re aiming for a DMD% of leafy silage to be around 74%- 76% and stemmy grass will make an average of 60%. We rely on the farmers to have good weed control in their paddocks and we expect them to have applied correct amount of fertiliser depending on soil types and fertility,” said Derrick, who always tries to ensure they are harvesting the best possible crop for the farmer.

“We aim to mow down in the afternoons when the sugars are at their highest – anything above 3% is ideal. It’s difficult to get everything right when you are against the weather but we do our best. Rolling and packing the pit is also crucial and we have a Volvo L45 which matches the output of the wagon. This year we have invested in a McHale baler and wrapper, I felt it was important to provide the two services to farmers as it’s mixed in this area,” said Derrick, who has two full time staff all year round including himself and hires in drivers for the busy season for maize sowing and silage cutting. It is a job he loves.

“I thoroughly enjoy it and the different services I provide keeps it very interesting, I enjoy going out and meeting farmers. I also enjoy the challenge, obviously machinery breaks down and fixing the machinery is something I’m good at.”