“Irish agriculture is facing major challenges, particularly in the areas of climate change and greenhouse gas reductions. Farmers will have to be part of the solution and, in time, will need to adopt new and emerging technologies to reach these figures.”
This is the view of Paddy Casey, Target Fertilisers, who recently spoke on the farm of Padraic Cummins, Oranmore, Co Galway.
Padraic is one of a number of farmers who have participated in the Terra Range trials from Target Fertilisers.
Alongside his son David, he runs a 280-cow Jersey-cross herd on a grass-based system, with concentrate feed supplementation averaging 600kg/cow/year, making him a perfect candidate to take part in the Terra Range grazing trials.
Padraic was introduced to the Terra Range a number of years ago, having applied it to silage ground on an outfarm after its first cut.
“The results on silage ground were very visible, so we decided to carry out a more extensive trial on the grazing platform of the home farm.”
As part of the Terra Range trial, Padraic spread 111 units of TerraCAN + S (22 nitrogen (N) + 4 sulphur (S) + 4 magnesium (Mg)) per acre on the Terra plots, compared with 147 units of SulCAN (27N + 4S) on the remainder of the farm.
Target Fertilisers' commitment to Irish agriculture
The European Union has given Ireland the target of reducing emissions by 51% by the year 2030. Within this target, agriculture has been tasked with reducing emissions by between 22% and 30% in the same time period.
The Department of Agriculture has specified a reduction in N input by up to 10% in 2022 and possibly a further 5% in 2024.
According to Paddy Casey: “Target Fertilisers are committed to Irish agriculture and the need to provide solutions to farmers so they can work within the new environmental regulations. As a result of this, in 2016 we commenced work with Brandon Bioscience, a marine biotech company based in Tralee, Co Kerry.”
In the last five years, they have worked together on the development of the new bio-stimulant, PSI-362, which is included in the new Terra Range.
Terra Range: what is PSI-362?
PSI-362 is a bio-stimulant that uses specific marine extracts from the seaweed ascophyllum nodosum that enhances the biological processes within the plant.
In production, Target Fertilisers granular coat all their Terra Range of products with PSI-362, which acts at root level to stimulate specific N receptors.
This finds expression in increased nitrate levels in the plant, which subsequently delivers higher crop yields. This is the reason why the Terra Range of products (treated with PSI-362) with lower N content will give similar crop yields to traditional products.
The Terra Range of products enhances nutrient use efficiency (NUE) and can be used to deliver environmental requirements for farmers set out by the Department of Agriculture.
Padraic explained: “Grass is the most important thing we have and our meal is secondary to the feeding of our cows.
“The farm is heavily stocked, so it is a number one priority for us to feed the farm appropriately.
"With the Terra Range, it is quite remarkable that you can use less N and grow the same amount of grass. It’s a real win-win for the environment and farmers alike,” he concluded.
Effective sustainable practices
In addition to incorporating the Terra Range, Padraic and David have been making other small but effective changes to improve the future sustainability and efficiency of their farming enterprise.
All slurry is spread using a low emission slurry spreading (LESS) system to lower the level of contamination, reduce the environmental impact and maximise the recovery of grass/silage swards.
Some 5% to 10% of the farm is reseeded every year, by identifying poorer performing paddocks.
Padraic and David incorporate clover in all reseeds, with the hope that it will reduce their overall fertiliser requirement, as well as improve animal intakes and performance.
For more information
The Terra Range presents a wonderful opportunity to meet climate change targets by lowering N application, while maintaining high output of both grass and grain. This, along with other small sustainable changes, will make the targets set out by the Department of Agriculture more achievable.
For further information on the Terra Range by Target Fertilisers, click here