L-R Bridget Lynch UCD & IGA council member along with speakers Philip Creighton Teagasc, Eddie O’Donnell Farmer and IGA council member, Adrian Van Bysterveldt Teagasc and Grainne Hurley Teagasc
(photo gallery below)
On October 4th the IGA held its first student event in Kildalton College which was sponsored by FBD insurance. The event was one of its kind in that it was also a first for third level students from University College Dublin, Waterford Institute of Technology and Teagasc Colleges to be brought together with one aspiration – advancement in new grassland technologies and options for expansion in the dairy sector. There were over 160 delegates altogether including students, lecturers and staff.
The day began with a morning conference with four excellent guest speakers:
• The Three Tools to Grass Budgeting – Dr. Gráinne Hurley, Dairy Advisor, Teagasc
• Profit from grass – a farmers perspective -Eddie O’Donnell, Dairy Farmer, Golden, Tipperary
• Benefits of sward renewal – Philip Creighton, Grassland Science Research Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Moorepark
• Greenfield dairy programme and options for expansion – Adrian Van Bysterveldt, Livestock Systems Research Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Moorepark
Each presentation was very well received by the audience with questions and discussion on various topics including farmers experience of on/off grazing, autumn grassland management, merits of spring reseeding, selecting a grass seed mixture, cost of reseeding and the importance of technology uptake in an expanding dairy sector.
In the afternoon students travelled to the dairy farm of James and Sinead Walsh, Kilmurray Lodge, Carrick-on-Suir for a farm walk which was chaired by Kevin Twomey with excellent input from Adrian Van Bysterveldt.
Siobhan James and Pat Walsh, host farmers
The farm walk began with James introducing the history of the family farm, the ownership of which he took over from his parent Pat and Siobhan in 2008. The students got an overview of how and why James got involved with the Greenfield Dairy Programme, five year financial projections and how the farm has progressed to date increasing cow numbers from 134 in 2008 to >250 in 2010. Grazing infrastructure developments, new paddock layout, day to day grassland management and reseeding plans were all discussed before students walked back to the farmyard for an overview of the new farmyard layout. There students got the chance to walk around the new 35 aside milking parlour and stock handling facilities, lagoon, wintering pad and silage slab. Students asked an array of questions on project management, loan security and the management of the cows in the new parlour.
Irish Grassland Association council members Pat Weeks and Kevin Twomey making a presentation to host farmer James Walsh
Before departure to Dublin, Ballyhaise, Clonakilty and Kildalton the Walsh’s served a very welcome cup of tea and coffee with cakes and biscuits for the road home which enable students to mix and discuss the day’s events.