Cutting on vital inputs is false economy

The last few years has seen substantial increases in the price of the main farm commodities such as beef, lamb, and milk.

However, at the same time, there has been a sharp increase in the price of most farm inputs and services such as fertiliser, diesel, concentrates, plastic, veterinary products, and electricity. The rise in the cost of inputs and expenses has eroded many of the gains made by farmers in the last few years, increasing the cost squeeze on farmers.

Unfortunately, most input costs are beyond the farmer’s control. The cost squeeze has increased their farmers to do their sums, look at the available options, and curb costs.

The completion of over 700 eProfit Monitors by Teagasc advisers on drystock farms in the region clearly demonstrated that controlling costs had a major influence on farm profitability.

Curbing expenses and/or controlling costs is a key component of farm management.

However, curbing costs by cutting back on vital inputs such as fertiliser or concentrates is false economy and going nowhere. The key is to improve farm efficiency and maintain farm output, while pinpointing where savings can be made.

For example, if breeding sucklers, farmers should pay particular attention to documents such as Herd Plus from ICBF, and follow Teagasc advice carefully.

Breeding replacements at 14 to 16 months to calve down at two years of age will help reduce overall farm costs.

Every sector of the farm needs to be examined to eliminate wastage and highlight areas where costs can be curbed.

With this in mind, the following are some suggestions from Teagasc advisers on where farmers could curb costs, or make savings.

Grass

Maximise the use of grass as a feed on farms. Grass is much cheaper than concentrates or silage. Use adequate levels of N, P, K, and lime to grow plenty of grass and practice rotational grazing.

Soil Tests

Soil samples will pinpoint fields that are surplus or deficient for P, K and lime. Both P and K are essential for grass growth and for the uptake and utilisation of nitrogen. Regular lime application will help to maximise the availability of N, P, and K in the soil.

Following a Teagasc adviser or agricultural consultant’s fertiliser plan will help control fertiliser costs in the long run.

Organic fertilisers

Maximise the use of slurry, farmyard manure, in the spring, when the greatest uptake of N, P, and K by plants occurs. Use organic fertiliser to replace costly chemical fertiliser.


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