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In your field: Ian Garnett - 'Science is key to beating bTB as it is with Covid-19'

You could be forgiven for thinking it was March. Cooler temperatures have somewhat hampered grass growth of late.

That said, our herds are all out to enjoy the dry conditions and graze covers down low ready for the day when things warm up and grass growth goes into overdrive.

 

This year we have invested in a grass-measuring plate meter so we’re hoping that we’ll need to use it soon.

 

Late applications of slurry on silage ground are effectively something we would never normally consider, however with low grass covers, ample lagoon supplies and good travelling conditions this year, we thought we’d try something different.

 

Let’s hope our hunch of a mid- to late-May silage cut pays off.

 

The tankers are now looking towards the maize ground. Generally we apply 25 units of nitrogen, 25 units of phosphorus and 150 units of potash per acre all from our own manures.

 

Each acre is then top dressed up to 70 N, 200 K and, with our ground being naturally high in phosphorus, we don’t apply any extra P.


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In recent years we have used a nitrogen inhibitor to help slow the release of nitrogen through the growing season in our maize crops, which has given satisfactory results and helped to deliver some environmental benefits.

 

We have, in recent years, trialled applying a pre-emergence herbicide mixed with liquid fertiliser. Results on some fields have been impressive but the jury is still out on whether it is effective on sufficient acres to continue to invest.

 

There has been a natural pause in our building work which has enabled us to focus on spring work. As is often the case at this time of year, there are never enough tractors nor enough people.

 

Always keen to invest in labour-saving devices, we are considering robotic scrapers for the new winter housing and parlour development at one of our farms.

 

It would be interesting to see how the robotic scraper compares to the auto-scrapers on one of the other farms.

 

Likewise, in terms of day-to-day running and ease of set-up, it would need to be referred to the IT manager, my five-year-old daughter.

 

This week we are in the middle of TB testing our herds. I am hoping the Government’s recently created Bovine TB Partnership is able to progress this most stressful subject for livestock farmers.

 

Like many, we have heard Boris Johnson repeatedly state how, in the fight against Covid-19, we must ‘follow the science’. We must hope the Bovine TB Partnership is allowed to do likewise.

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