Focus on milk profits from heavy soils

ALMOST one third of our milk comes from soils that are classified as heavy.

Teagasc has started a new research programme to explore the most cost-effective and efficient means of profitably increasing milk production on heavy soils. Monitor farms have been set up in heavy soil areas. Research findings from drainage trials at Solohead will be an integral part of the programme.

Many dairy farmers are familiar with the massive progress that was made on the Tipperary Co-op/Teagasc farm at Solohead. Some drainage, reseeding and farm infrastructure changed this farm into a highly productive dairy farm.

I have often highlighted how this farm was able to support 2.2 cows per hectare, yielding 1,400 gallons each, on clover-based pasture, receiving only 72 units of nitrogen per acre, with moderate concentrate usage. This is about double the national average milk production per hectare. The progress on this farm indicates the potential for profitable milk expansion on heavy soils. But drainage and infrastructure are necessary, and farmers fear the capacity to do this effectively may be threatened by the new land improvement proposals that environmental impact assessment become compulsory for reclamation of wetlands, and department consent is needed for other farm reclamation projects.

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