The secret intelligence of donkeys

Agridirect.ie outlines how donkeys have been negatively characterised in most agricultural societies and explains why our prejudices are very misguided.

Stereotyping

Few farm animals receive more negative press than the humble donkey (Equus asinus). For most of the recorded history of animal husbandry, humans have depicted donkeys as ignorant, stubborn, stupid creatures. Indeed, the donkey is often evoked as a byword for undesirable human behaviour. In most cultures and languages, to call someone a donkey stirs up a range of negative associations. Where I come from, belligerent or wilful people are often accused, scathingly, of being “as thick as an ass”. In historical accounts dating as far back as Ancient Greece, donkeys were compared unfavourably to horses, due to their smaller stature, cropped mane, stubbornness, and suitability for hard labour rather than leisure activities such as racing.

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The Agridirect Guide to Buying a Used Tractor

Agridirect.ie talks about the potential pitfalls of buying a used tractor and presents a short guide to help you get value for your money.

An important investment

A good tractor is one of the most important investments a farmer can make. The right tractor will fix you up for years to come. Now, obviously, those who can afford to buy a brand-new model don’t have many worries. New tractors, unless they come from a very disreputable brand, should run like clockwork for a few years at least.

If you are like me, however, you simply can’t afford to spend big on a brand-new model. This means that you are on the hunt for a good used tractor. This is not necessarily going to be a painful experience. There are many excellent used tractors on the market, and many reputable dealers that won’t sell you a pig-in-a-poke. However, it is also important to remember that there are plenty of highway men out there who will sell you a spray-painted heap of scrap if they can get away with it. That’s why we at Agridirect.ie have decided to put together this short and simple guide to help you with your purchase. In today’s blog entry, we will discuss what to look for in a used tractor and what features to check and double-check before making the deal.

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Why farming is the foundation stone of modern civilization

Agridirect.ie discusses the origins of farming and explains how agriculture became the cornerstone of human civilization.

How farmers built civilization

It is a well-established fact that agriculture provided the foundations on which human civilization was built. Without agriculture, few of mankind’s other achievements would have been possible. The history of farming is long, complex and not always clearly understood, but archaeologists, anthropologists and scientists have been able to piece together a clear picture of how the agricultural revolution changed the course of human history.

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Think sheep are stupid? Think again

Agridirect.ie discusses the intelligence of sheep. In this piece, we argue that Ireland’s most populous farm animal is far smarter than we give it credit for.

A stupid insult

Nowadays, sheep are a byword for stupidity. To call someone a sheep is to imply that they are weak, unintelligent, and easily led. In many of those pointless arguments in Facebook comments sections, the term “sheeple” is trotted out as a derogatory swipe at someone’s intellect. I roll my eyes whenever I come across this word. To believe oneself enlightened beyond the rest of the human “flock” is the trait of the fatally ignorant. Though the user may think himself very witty, the “sheeple” portmanteau is hackneyed and lazy. Ironically, the keyboard warrior wielding it betrays the very lack of originality and individuality that he seeks to criticise in others.

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Grassland reseeding: the steps to the perfect reseed

Following on from the last reseeding blog where we went through the benefits of reseeding and how to go about selecting a seed mix, this week we look at the steps you should take to achieve a top-quality grass reseed, along with the weed control measures needed to protect the good work done during the reseeding process!

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Flock fertility: now is the time to invest

With breeding season now clearly on the horizon for many farmers, Agridirect.ie discusses the use of boluses to boost flock fertility.

Flock fertility: now is the time to invest!

While sheep farmers are enjoying high prices for finished lambs this year, past experience of buoyant finished lamb prices will prompt many to think that it won’t last forever and may not even last long. Of course, better prices are only what lamb producers deserve but now thoughts are swiftly turning towards breeding next year’s crop of lambs. No one can predict what next year’s prices will bring, but one way of driving profitability on any sheep farm is a high level of productivity, in particular a high number of lambs sold per ewe.

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Help them help us – get to work on your bee garden

Agridirect.ie discusses why we need bee gardens, and outlines some quick and easy steps that you can take to support the world’s most effective pollinators.

The threat of extinction

The global bee population has been declining steadily for decades now. Here in Ireland, we have seen a marked decrease in bee numbers since the 1980s. According to experts, the distribution of 42 bee species has declined by more than 50% over the last 40 years. There are numerous possible causes of this dramatic decline, but most scientists blame a combination of habitat destruction, climate change, excessive pesticide use, changes in land use, and loss of biodiversity.

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White clover: the EU’s golden ticket?

With the level of chemical fertilizer used in the EU at the forefront of politicians’ minds this week, white clover may become a major factor on Irish farms in the very near future. In this week’s second blog entry, Adrian Graham from Dundalk IT tells Agridirect.ie about the benefits of growing white clover.

Reducing chemical nitrogen

Recent news confirmed that as part of the new proposed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the limit for chemical nitrogen spread in the EU will be reduced by 10% and the closed period for slurry spreading will be lengthened by bringing the existing closing date (15th of October) back to some point in September. This will put pressure on farmers to keep grass growing, but clover could be the answer. Clover has the ability to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air using rhizobia bacteria that the plant contains within its roots. This nitrogen is then held in the soil and is made available for the grass plants to utilize. This process leads to a much quicker regrowth of grass.

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Spending a lot of time on the tractor? Mind your back!

Agridirect.ie discusses how spending a lot of time driving a tractor can be harmful to the lower back, and offers farmers some advice on how to reduce risk this silage season.

A physically demanding profession

The number of farmers who complain of back pain during this time of year is always very high. If you, personally, haven’t experienced persistent aching in the lower back, you almost certainly know a farmer who has. Now, there are many possible causes of back pain. Farming is a physically demanding profession, after all, and entails many activities that are potentially harmful to the back muscles. Tasks such as pitching and lifting heavy weights are notoriously hard on this part of the body.

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Stuck behind farm machinery on the road? Take it easy!

Traffic behind tractor 001Agridirect.ie advises road users to relax when stuck behind slow-moving farm machinery this summer. 

It’s silage season – know what to expect on Irish roads?

If you live in a rural area or took a drive into the countryside over the last few weeks, chances are you’ve spent some time driving behind heavy machinery. Tractors are a frequent sight on Irish roads at all times of the year, but the summer months see a sharp increase in the volume of moving machinery in public spaces. With the silage season well underway, you will encounter large tractors carrying mowers and bale lifters, or towing balers and wrappers, every few kilometres on most journeys.    Continue reading “Stuck behind farm machinery on the road? Take it easy!”