WATCH: Limerick dairy farmer wins on the double for grassland and milk

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

IF YOU win one award you are doing something right but it you win two then you are doing a lot right.

It was announced last week that the winner of the disadvantaged land category in the Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards was Pallasgreen's Sean Barry. Back in 2018, Sean and his father Patrick were the Limerick regional winners of the Dairygold Milk Quality Awards for consistently supplying the best quality milk to the co-op throughout 2017.

The Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards ceremony took place as a live webinar last week. The 15 finalists were profiled and winners of each category along with the overall winner were announced.

The Barry’s milk 70 cows with a stocking rate of 3.2 LU/ha on the milking platform in Ballyluddy. The milking platform is split in three with a busy main road and minor road.

The farm is mostly heavy soil type and as such has required essential investments in grazing infrastructure, drainage and re-seeding to get it to where it is today.

In 2020 the farm grew over 13 T DM/ha. Sean aims to get cows out grazing by March 10 but this varies year to year. To help this Sean walks the farm daily in early March to identify dry areas within paddocks that the cows can graze. He also ensures they are not full of silage before going out and uses on-off grazing to get grass into the diet.

Sean included clover in reseeds in 2020 and plans to continue to do this in 2021 but he ensures the soil fertility is correct before this. The Barry’s cows produced 485 Kg MS per cow, supplied to Dairygold Co-op, from 670 kg meal in 2019.

Sean was one of 15 finalists in the Grassland Farmer of the Year competition which recognises farmers who are achieving high levels of grass utilisation in a sustainable manner. Irish agriculture faces serious challenges in trying to meet Greenhouse Gas and Ammonia emissions targets. Improved Nutrient Management and the use of clover are now more important than ever.

The sustainability of our livestock production must improve. Some farmers have to operate with difficult land and the competition also recognises this. Awards are made to those farmers who demonstrate excellence in specific areas of grassland on their farm and Sean is certainly doing that to win the disadvantaged land category.

The Grassland Farmer of the Year competition is run as part of the Teagasc Grass10 grassland campaign. The focus of Grass10 is on encouraging grassland farmers to grow and utilise more grass in the animal’s diet. The aim is to help farmers utilise 10 tonnes grass dry matter per hectare per annum, with 10 grazings per paddock per year.

The Grassland Farmer of the Year competition is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc, Allied Irish Bank, FBD Insurance, Grassland Agro and Irish Farmers Journal.

Limerick has a proud record in the competition with John and Olivia Macnamara, Knockainey previously winning the overall award and the dairy enterprise award.

Niall Moloney, Crecora has been named Young Grassland Farmer of the Year. While John Leahy, Athea, won the most improved grassland merit award.