We are hoping to get a nice drop of rain this week in the southeast to help to take us out of another mini drought.
We seem to be bouncing from dry spell to dry spell all year with very few surpluses coming to hand on the grazing platform. Ground is rock hard and dry again with recovery very slow after grazing.
We have enough grass on the farm for the next couple of weeks, but building up a bank of grass for the autumn has been a challenge. We cut the final bit of silage for the year last week and emptied the slurry tanks on to that ground as well as blanket spreading the last of the fertiliser for the season. It’s a case of just add water now, so hopefully we get enough from the heavy showers forecast this week.
Now that the hedge-cutting season has opened, that machine will be busy for the next few weeks and while the grass growth has been stop-start all year, the hedges seem to have had an exceptional year of growth. We will trim everything back from the electric wires and then try to let a bit more height back into some of the hedges to help with biodiversity.
There is a huge crop of berries this year as well so we will protect these as much as possible as we do the rounds.
We are leaving some more whitethorn and blackthorn trees uncut for the last few years and the benefits are really coming through now with an exceptional display of flowers in the spring for the pollinators and a great crop of berries this autumn for the birds.
We will try to get as much as possible of this work out of the way over the next month. Ground conditions are perfect for the job and it’s one of the quieter times of the year this year with no distractions like ploughing matches or shows to attend.
On the other hand, the Ploughing match is a huge loss to us this year with all of the proposed new regulations coming down the tracks. We could do with an opportunity to challenge our politicians and Department of Agriculture officials and have a robust discussion about what they expect from us in terms of farm investment over the next few years.
We have had some clarification this week about the details of the new proposals and the important thing is to take note that these are just proposals and there is still an opportunity to make submissions about them over the next two weeks.
The closing date for these submissions to the Department of Agriculture is 20 September, so if any discussion groups are meeting this month, maybe they should consider putting together a submission with their adviser or facilitator.
We need water quality to improve for us to retain our nitrates derogation, so we can’t oppose all of these new rules. Something needs to improve on farm to get graphs going in the right direction in our water bodies. We need to be targeted in what we oppose and give good reasons why those proposals need to be changed or scrapped. But we also need to accept some changes and move forward in that new environment and hopefully these changes, combined with the new rules brought in at the start of this year, will generate some real improvement in this area.
The worrying thing behind all of this though is that we have no assurances that this is the end of the changes or the investments needed to bring our farms up to standard, or that these changes will ensure the retention of the nitrates derogation for any period of time.
Change is never easy but at least if we had some assurances in terms of a timeframe that our farms would be compliant after this round of investment or that this would ensure that we hold our derogation for a period of time to help to repay that investment, it would be a somewhat easier pill to swallow.