Senator Hackett encourages farmers to consider fertiliser use
Updated: Oct 13
Describes success of intensive farmer whose use is zero
Praises the impact on soil quality of multi-species swards
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett today encouraged beef and dairy farmers to consider planting multi-species swards in order to help them reduce their dependence on chemical fertiliser.
Recognising the very considerable increases in fertiliser prices which are hitting farmers at the moment, the Minster with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity used her Seanad Order of Business speech to highlight the potential for farmers to plant their pastures differently in order to lower input costs without damaging profitability.
Describing the success experienced by one particular intensive dairy farmer who has moved to zero nitrogen, she said:
‘Three years ago, as part of his reseeding programme, he began planting multiple varieties of grasses, clovers and herbs. He also started decreasing his use of chemical nitrogen. This year, he applied no chemical nitrogen to the grazing ground at all, yet he continues to see yields maintained, and improved profitability.’
Recognising that she was telling only one story, the Minister continued:
‘I know one swallow does not make a Summer. I know this one farmer’s results do not constitute a scientific study. But this farm is producing about 8,000 litres of milk per cow per annum, well above the national average, and has saved close on €40,000 this year alone, on fertiliser and application costs.’
The Minister spoke of how multi-species swards draw on nature’s nutrients for growth, explaining:
‘This is regenerative agriculture, with healthy soil, and healthy cattle, thriving on a tasty and nutritious mixture of crops, however wild and uneven they might look to a casual observer.’
She closed her speech describing the sense of hope her visit had left her with:
'I saw a strong, family run, dairy business, based on healthy soil, and a farm bursting with biodiversity. And I really would like to believe too…..that I saw the future'.