• Machinery costs on tillage farms and the development of decision support systems for machinery investments/use on farms.

      Forristal, P.D. (Teagasc, 1999-09-01)
      Costs and benefits associated with the use of farm machinery are difficult to calculate. A research programme was established to highlight the area of machinery costs and to provide information on which to base mechanisation decisions. A machinery cost survey was the central part of the programme which collected detailed machinery cost information from 40 arable farms over a period of three years. Costing methods were developed to provide an annual per-hectare cost for each machine over its ownership period. An average annual machinery cost figure of £194/ha, excluding labour, was recorded. Costs varied from £93/ha to £340/ha between farms. Depreciation and interest accounted for almost 60% of the total costs figure. Larger farms (>160 ha) had lower costs and less cost variation than smaller- and medium-sized farms. They were more machinery efficient, with lower levels of machinery investment per hectare. Smaller- and medium-sized farms had much greater cost variation with many farms being over-mechanised, resulting in excessive machinery costs. The importance of selecting an appropriate mechanisation policy for individual farm situations was evident. Using information from the survey to select appropriate costing methodology from other research, a simple cost-prediction computer program was developed. This allows costs for an individual machine at any use level to be estimated. This program was used to evaluate various mechanisation options on 40, 100 and 240 ha farms. The program was then redeveloped for use by the advisory service. It is a decisionsupport type program which requires input from a trained operator with experience of mechanisation. It should prove useful in determining farm mechanisation policies against a background of changing mechanisation technology, farm labour supply and potential price-support reductions.
    • Maize silage for milk production - Part 1: Effect of the quality of maize silage on milk

      Fitzgerald, J.J.; Murphy, J.J.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Culleton, Noel (Teagasc, 1998-11-01)
      Ensiled forage maize is an alternative or complementary forage to grass silage and is the main source of forage for ruminant livestock in many European countries. The growing of maize for silage was tried unsuccessfully in Ireland in the 1970’s, was resumed in the late 1980’s and is now well established in suitable areas in the south and east of Ireland. However, variation in growing conditions and summer radiation can result in considerable variation in the yield, maturity and feeding value of the crop from year to year and between regions or locations within years. A series of experiments were conducted at Moorepark and at Johnstown Castle Research Centre to evaluate the role of maize silage in the diet of lactating dairy cows, the effect of variation in the quality (starch content and digestibility) of maize silage, the proportion of maize silage in the forage and the effect of harvesting date of immature maize silage on feed intake, milk production and milk composition compared with an all grass silage based diet. Grass silages of moderate or high digestibility were used. These studies were carried out with cows in early or mid lactation or at both stages of lactation. The forages were supplemented with concentrates at low to moderate levels of feeding (4-7 kg/cow/day). The concentrates generally contained a high level of crude protein (220- 250 g CP/kg fresh weight) to balance the low level of crude protein in maize silage. The experiments were conducted over periods of 7-9 weeks.
    • Maize silage for milk production - Part 2: Effect of concentrate quality and quantity fed withmaize silage based forages on milk production

      Fitzgerald, J.J.; Murphy, J.J.; Culleton, Noel (Teagasc, 1998-11-01)
      In some of the studies outlined in Part 1 of this report, mixed forages containing grass silage and a high proportion (60%) of maize silages varying in maturity and starch content were supplemented with concentrates at different levels to compare the response in milk production with a maize silage based forage and with good quality grass silage as the sole forage. The most suitable type of energy ingredient in the concentrate, i.e. high starch or low starch, high fibre ingredients, as supplements to maize silage based forages or grass silage was investigated. A range of levels of crude protein in the concentrate were examined in one study to determine the optimum level of crude protein in the supplement for maize silage based forages compared with grass silage.
    • Major management factors associated with the variation in reproductive performance of Irish dairy herds

      Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Mee, John F (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
      The results highlight the importance of BCS in achieving good reproductive performance. The likelihood of reproductive success was best predicted by BCS around the time of breeding and, for cows calving in good BCS (3.0 or greater) the level of BCS loss between calving and first service. A low BCS pre-calving (<2.75) was associated with prolonged calving to first service, and calving to conception intervals. Very high BCS pre-calving (>3.5) results in excessive BCS loss (>0.5) post-calving. On the basis of these findings a pre-calving BCS of no greater than 3.25 is a sensible target for pasture-based spring calving systems in Ireland. It is necessary to maintain BCS at 2.75 or greater during the breeding season, and loss of body condition between calving and first service should be restricted to 0.5 BCS units.
    • Managing new food product development.

      Daly, Eimear; European Union (Teagasc, 2002-10)
      The future success of the Irish food industry depends on the ability of companies to develop new skills in a rapidly changing market environment. One such skill is the management of new product development. This report illustrates the impact that training in the product development process had on a range of small to medium enterprises. Training was delivered as a series of interactive workshops covering the key stages of the new product development process. Each company also received up to 7 days consultancy support to facilitate implementation of the learning.
    • Managing Spent Mushroom Compost

      Maher, M.J.; Magette, William L.; Smyth, S.; Duggan, J.; Dodd, V.A.; Hennerty, M.J.; McCabe, T. (Teagasc, 2000-07-01)
      This project addressed how to manage spent mushroom compost (SMC), an issue of critical importance to the continued development of the Irish mushroom industry. The most important aim of the project was to devise a feasible strategy for the management of this material on an industry wide basis. There were two main components of the project, which were conducted in parallel. One analysed the structure of the mushroom industry and the logistics of handling, transporting and processing SMC. The other studied the agronomic properties of SMC in an effort to develop improved guidelines on the best use of SMC in crop production. Our analysis of the SMC management problem led us to conclude that a centralised approach should be taken when developing the solution strategy. The model solution that was formulated is based on the establishment of centrally located depots for SMC collection, temporary storage and possible processing. This approach facilitates a variety of environmentally acceptable SMC end uses ranging from land application to incineration. We examined a variety of possible end uses for SMC, including its use as an alternative fuel. In the immediate future, we believe the predominant end use for SMC will be as an organic manure for field crop production and as a soil conditioner in the landscaping industry. Uses of this type are in line with both Irish and EU legislation regarding waste management. Our analysis suggests that tillage and horticulture offer the best promise for realising the beneficial properties of SMC. We have tested SMC on field crops such as winter and spring wheat and potatoes and on glasshouse crops such as tomatoes. These experiments have shown that SMC increases soil organic matter and improves soil structure. SMC is a very effective source of K and P and also provides trace elements. It makes a contribution to N nutrition but most of the N does not become available to the crop in the first year. For best results therefore, supplementary N must be applied. Overall, our results indicate that SMC can be used with beneficial effects in field crop production. The mushroom industry should move forward with establishing centralised SMC handling facilities to enable the efficient collection, temporary storage, further processing and transportation of SMC to end users. An education and awareness campaign should be conducted amongst farmers, in areas removed from mushroom production, to introduce them to the benefits of SMC and ways to effectively utilise this material.
    • Manipulation of Grass Supply to Meet Feed Demand

      French, Padraig; Hennessy, Deirdre; O'Donovan, Michael; Laidlaw, S. (Teagasc, 2006-01)
      Grazed grass is generally the cheapest form of feed available for beef and milk production in Ireland. Grass growth is variable during the year with a peak in May/June and a secondary peak in August. There is little net growth from December to February. Grass growth is also variable across the country with higher grass growth in the south and south-west (14 to 15 t DM/ha/year) compared with approximately 11 t DM/ha/year in the north-east (Brereton, 1995). There is poor synchrony between grass supply and feed demand on beef and dairy farms. The feed demand curve for a calf to two year old beef system shows feed demand decreasing as grass supply increases, and grass supply decreasing as feed demand increases. Similarly, the feed demand curve of a spring calving dairy herd shows poor synchrony with grass supply, with a surplus of grass from about mid-April to mid-August, and a deficit for the rest of the year. Traditionally surplus grass produced during May and June is conserved as silage or hay and fed back to cattle and dairy cows during the deficit times of the year. This project examined the possibility of reducing the grass growth peak in May/June and increasing grass supply later in the year by altering nitrogen application pattern and extending autumn rotation lengths.
    • Manipulation of grass supply to meet feed demand

      French, Padraig; Hennessy, Deirdre; O’Donovan, Michael; Laidlaw, S. (Teagasc, 2006-01-01)
      Grazed grass is generally the cheapest form of feed available for beef and milk production in Ireland. Grass growth is variable during the year with a peak in May/June and a secondary peak in August. There is little net growth from December to February. Grass growth is also variable across the country with higher grass growth in the south and south-west (14 to 15 t DM/ha/year) compared with approximately 11 t DM/ha/year in the north-east (Brereton, 1995). There is poor synchrony between grass supply and feed demand on beef and dairy farms. The feed demand curve for a calf to two year old beef system shows feed demand decreasing as grass supply increases, and grass supply decreasing as feed demand increases. Similarly, the feed demand curve of a spring calving dairy herd shows poor synchrony with grass supply, with a surplus of grass from about mid-April to mid-August, and a deficit for the rest of the year. Traditionally surplus grass produced during May and June is conserved as silage or hay and fed back to cattle and dairy cows during the deficit times of the year.
    • Mapping the broad habitats of the Burren using satellite imagery

      Parr, Sharon; O'Donovan, Grace; Finn, John (Teagasc, 01/03/2006)
      This project has successfully used satellite imagery to survey and map the extent and spatial distribution of broad habitat types within the Burren, and we have represented this information on a digitised habitat map. this information on a digitised habitat map. This map is the first to show the distribution of the broad habitats of the Burren and will be an important tool in aiding future decisions as to how the habitats of the Burren should be managed to the benefit of both the farmer and the environment. The map provides the first estimate of the area of the Burren affected by scrub encroachment – this being one of the most significant threats to the EU priority habitats in the region. On a particularly challenging area with a high diversity and complexity of habitats, remote sensing appears to offer a very effective and cost-efficient alternative to broad-scale habitat mapping on a field-by-field basis. The use of high-resolution imagery and ground-truthing should be adopted to complete a detailed national survey of habitats and land use in Ireland. This would support more effective implementation of both the Agriculture sector’s obligations under the Habitats Directive, and agri-environmental schemes with wildlife objectives. The outputs provided by such mapping approaches could inform the targeting of agri-environmental objectives, and increase the efficiency of detecting areas of high conservation value for monitoring by more conventional methods. The detailed land use descriptions offered by such imagery are also of high relevance to modelling approaches and risk assessment for implementation of land use policies such as the Water Framework Directive and Nitrates Directive.
    • The market for organic liquid milk in Ireland.

      Cowan, Cathal; Ni Ghraith, Dearbhla; Daly, Aidan (Teagasc, 2002-01)
      The key research question was ”what is the market potential in Ireland for organic liquid milk and related products up to 2006”? Denmark and Austria are among the most developed organic food markets in the world. Using the Diamond Model of factors contributing to competitiveness, detailed case studies of these countries were undertaken to identify the drivers in the growth of consumption of organic food and milk products. Market share for organic liquid milk in Ireland is less than 0.1% compared with 20% in Denmark and 9% in Austria. All the factors of the Diamond Model worked to grow the organic food market in Denmark and Austria. The Austrian and Danish Governments were the first in Europe to introduce legislation on organic farming and also subsidised farmers to bridge conversion to organic farming. The conventional milk sector in Ireland is very competitive but has not shown an interest in organics, whereas in Denmark the largest conventional milk processor is the main player. The small size of the Irish organic milk market means it is not a major area of rivalry at retail level. This contrasts with Denmark and Austria where retailers have driven the market. In Denmark, following approaches in 1993 from farmers’ representatives, the major retail group, FDB, lowered organic milk prices to entice consumers to switch from conventional milk. The main Danish milk processor successfully launched the ‘Harmonie’ organic brand and moved the market from niche to mainstream. In Austria, Billa, a major retailer, set market targets and introduced a high quality organic own-label brand. They encouraged farmers to switch and increase organic production by offering them five year contracts at fixed prices.
    • The market for speciality foods in Ireland

      Meehan, Hilary; Murphy, Aidan; O'Reilly, Seamus; Bogue, Joe (Teagasc, 2001-05)
      The speciality food sector has experienced above average industry growth over recent years. Most speciality foods are produced in limited quantities using non-industrial artisan techniques. The majority of speciality food producing businesses were set up in the last fifteen years, have a turnover below €635,000, are based in a rural region and employ less than ten people. The most important markets for Irish speciality food producers are the export market, food service and multiple retailers.
    • The Market Potential for in-conversion organic products in Ireland.

      Cowan, Cathal; Connolly, Liam; Howlett, Brendan; Meehan, Hilary; Ryan, Jane; Mahon, Denise; McIntyre, Bridin; Fanning, Martin (Teagasc, 2005-08-01)
      This report deals with the market for and financial feasibility of converting from conventional to organic food production in Ireland. All members of the organic supply chain were included in the study i.e. farmers, intermediaries, retailers and consumers, to examine the potential of a market for conversion grade produce. Conversion products are those produced in the second year of the conversion phase from conventional to organic farming. Products do not attain full organic status until this is completed.
    • The market potential for in-conversion organic products in Ireland.

      Cowan, Cathal; Connolly, Liam; Howlett, Brendan; Meehan, Hilary; Ryan, Jane; Mahon, Denise; McIntyre, Bridin; Fanning, Martin; European Commission; QLK-2000-01112 (Teagasc, 2005-08)
      This report deals with the market for and financial feasibility of converting from conventional to organic food production in Ireland. All members of the organic supply chain were included in the study i.e. farmers, intermediaries, retailers and consumers, to examine the potential of a market for conversion grade produce. Conversion products are those produced in the second year of the conversion phase from conventional to organic farming. Products do not attain full organic status until this is completed.
    • Maximising Annual Intake of Grazed Grass for Beef Production.

      Humphreys, James; O'Riordan, Edward G.; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, 2001-06-01)
      Grass is by far the most important crop grown in Ireland.Well-managed grassland supports high levels of animal performance, and the production of high quality produce. Grazed grass is a relatively cheap feed source for beef production (O'Kiely, 1994). Grazed grass does not always match feed requirements in efficient beef production systems. Supply tends to exceed demand in the late spring and summer whereas deficiencies in feed supply occur in late autumn and during the winter and early spring. The objective of the present series of experiments was to examine the potential to increase the utilization of grazed grass in beef production systems.There are two aspects to this: one relates to the utilization of grass in situ; the second relates to the strategic approach to grass utilization, i.e. matching feed requirements with supply of grazed grass and silage conservation during the year. The first two experiments presented in this report examine the utilization of grass in situ. The effects of pre-grazing pasture mass and nitrogen (N) fertilization on the production and subsequently the utilization and digestibility of the grass under grazing by cattle were examined. A third experiment and examines the effect of pre-grazing pasture mass on performance of beef cattle during a grazing season. The fourth experiment investigates the role of perennial ryegrass cultivars in supplying grass for grazing during the spring, and for the production of high nutritive value first cut silage.
    • Maximising grazed grass in the diet of the ewe for mid-season lamb production.

      Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, 2001-03-01)
      A trial was conducted at the Knockbeg Sheep Unit, Co. Carlow over the years 1998/99 and 1999/00 with objectives centred on maximising the role of grazed grass in the diet of the ewe by accumulating autumn pasture and carrying it forward for winter grazing. Using a farmlet system approach, two systems of mid season lamb production, intensive and extensive, were compared for ewe productivity, lamb performance, carcass output per ha and associated management inputs. The stocking rates chosen for the two systems were: (1) 13 ewes per ha including silage conservation and housing for a 100-day winter and, (2) 10 ewes per ha with extended grazing in winter.
    • Maximising Output of Beef Within Cost Efficient, Environmentally Compatible Forage Conservation Systems.

      O'Kiely, Padraig; Moloney, Aidan P; Keating, Thomas; Shiels, Patrick (Teagasc, 1999-05-01)
      A comprehensive research programme showed the potential benefits of replacing a productive old permanent grassland pasture dominated by indigenous species with new perennial or Italian ryegrass swards, when each was managed intensively, conserved as silage and fed to beef cattle. Ancillary experiments showed how the silage systems could be modified to improve productivity. However, they also showed that under a less intensive regime, replacing this old permanent pasture by ryegrass reseeds would be difficult to justify.
    • Measurement of Grassland Management Practice on Commercial Dairy Farms

      O'Donovan, Michael; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, 1999-12-01)
      Visual assessment (>4 cm) was found to be the preferred method of pasture mass estimation. Grass budgeting with the use of grass cover measurement, was found to be the most effective aid to good grazing management. Closing farm grass cover in late November/early December should be 350 to 450 kg DM/ha with a range in covers of 200 to 900. Target farm grass covers of 550 to 600 kg DM/ha at turnout at stocking rate of 2.75 cow/ha. Pre-grazing yields at turnout should not be less than 1000 kg DM/ha, giving daily grass allowance of not less than 5 kg DM/cow. The available grass supply in Spring should be budgeted so as to finish the first grazing rotation between the 10th-20th April (grass supply equal grass demand). During the main grazing season (May to August), grazing grass cover should be maintained at 900 to 1000 kg DM/ha or 200 to 240 kg DM/cow. Pre-grazing yield should be maintained at 1800 to 2000 kg DM/ha, with post-grazing residuals at 150 to 200 kg DM/ha (5.5 to 6.5 cm post-grazing height). Stocking rates of greater than 4.5 cow/ha on the grazing area in May/June mostly resulted in inadequate grass supply at some periods over that time. Rotation length can be increased from 21 days in mid/late August to 35 days in late September, allowing grass cover to increase to 1100 to 1300 kg DM/ha. Last rotation should be 25 to 35 days, with first paddocks rested from the 10th to 15th October. Greater use of grass measurements at farm level will allow dairy farmers to obtain a greater proportion of the dairy herd’s feed demand from grazed grass, and higher cow performance.
    • Measuring Productivity Change and Efficiency on Irish Farms.

      O'Neill, Suzanne; Leavy, Anthony; Matthews, Alan (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
      This report investigates technical change and levels of technical efficiency on Irish farms using National Farm Survey (N.F.S.) data. It also examines whether levels of technical efficiency are influenced by contact with the extension service. The study utilises a stochastic production frontier approach to measure productivity growth and the technical efficiency of a panel of Irish farms over the period 1984 to 1998. This sample was used to calculate (a) technical change over time as measured by best practice farms and (b) technical efficiency levels of all farms over this period. It, therefore, provides disaggregated estimates of technical change by farming system as well as quantifying the average level of technical efficiency. The project also examines the factors associated with differences in technical efficiency between farms and the impact of extension service contact on farm-level technical efficiency. Mean technical change (i.e. changes in best practice) continued, albeit at a declining rate, throughout the period studied. Significant differences were revealed in the rate of technical change on farms of different types. For example technical change on dairy and crop farms averaged nearly 2 per cent per annum while technical regress occurred on beef and sheep farms. In addition to examining technical change, farm efficiency relative to best practice within each farming system was also measured. Results indicate that farms achieved, on average, approximately 65 per cent of the efficiency level of best practice farms. The average level of farm efficiency has been decreasing by 0.4 per cent per annum indicating that the gap between best practice farms and all farms has been increasing by this amount over time. Thirty one percent of the most efficient farms were dairy farms while 23 per cent were arable farms. Approximately 52 per cent of the least efficient farms were cattle farms while a further 31 per cent were sheep farms. Average efficiency over the period was 34.2 per cent in the least efficient quintile of farms. This compared to almost 90 per cent for the most efficient quintile of farms. A positive relationship between age and efficiency was found up to the age of 49 years after which the relationship between age and efficiency becomes negative. The farm debt to assets ratio was positively related to efficiency while farm size and location in the West of Ireland was negatively related to efficiency. Farms in contact with the extension service were found to be on average 6.5 per cent more efficient than farms without contact. Contact farms with a lower than average dependency on direct payments were a further 6.6 per cent than contact farms with an average dependency on direct payments. Contact farms with a higher than average dependence on direct payments were 1.9 per cent less efficient than the same group of contact farms. However, efficiency on these farms with a high dependence on direct payments was still, on average, higher than on farms with no extension contact.
    • Measuring the Competitiveness of Irish Agriculture (1996-2000)

      Thorne, Fiona (Teagasc, 2004-02-01)
      This research project was initiated in direct response to a specific recommendation from the report of the 2010 Committee (DAFRD, 2000) which found that there was insufficient work and data in the area of competitiveness. Ensuing from this, three separate pieces of research were undertaken. Alan Matthews and Carol Newman, Trinity College, carried out an assessment of the productivity growth in Irish agriculture from 1984 to 2000. Proferssor Gerry Boyle, NUI Maynooth, updated previous work carried out in the early 1990’s on cost based and partial productivity based indicators of competitiveness. In addition, Rural Economy Research Centre, Teagasc, responded to the recommendation from the committee for ‘the collection and publication on a regular basis of key competitiveness indicators, with appropriate international comparisons” (DAFRD, 2000, p.40). Appropriate indicators of competitiveness were identified and calculated for the years 1996 to 2000. These indicators provide a baseline upon which competitiveness of Irish agriculture can be examined on a regular basis.Phase I of this project investigated alternative indicators for measuring the competitiveness of the agricultural and food sectors, which meet the requirements of the theory of competitiveness and for which relevant data could be collected on an annual basis. Profitability was selected as a measure of competitive performance and costs of production, value of output and partial productivity indicators were examined as possible sources (potential) of competitive performance. In addition to performance and potential, the competitive process is often referred to in studies of competitiveness, the mechanism whereby competitive potential is translated into competitive performance. However, the majority of these measures are qualitative in nature and consequently were not considered for the purposes of this research whereby appropriate quantitative indicators of competitiveness are to be identified. The Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) was the primary source of data used in this analysis.
    • Measuring the lean content of carcasses using TOBEC

      Allen, Paul; McGeehin, Brian (Teagasc, 2001-05)
      This project examined the potential of two objective methods of measuring the lean and fat content of meat carcasses and cuts. Total Body Electrical Conductivity (TOBEC) and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) are both based on the different conductivity of lean and fat tissues. TOBEC measures the absorption by a carcass or cut of electrical energy from an electromagnetic field whereas BIA measures the resistance to the flow of an electrical current. TOBEC is a large and relatively expensive piece of equipment that is fully automated. BIA is small and relatively low cost but requires an operator.