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.

Continue reading “Help them help us – get to work on your bee garden”

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.

Continue reading “White clover: the EU’s golden ticket?”

Yes, we need more clover. Here’s why!

Agridirect.ie outlines the primary benefits of promoting white clover on our land.

A member of the bean family, white clover (trifolium repens) is native to Europe and Central Asia. Traditionally, it has thrived in the temperate oceanic climate of Britain and Ireland, providing excellent grazing for the ruminants of these islands. After World War II, however, market forces began to target the three-leaved plant. As petrochemical herbicides developed during the war era hit the shelves, the chemical industry started to depict white clover as an unsightly weed that its products could deal with. Predictably, the global clover population took a serious nosedive.

Continue reading “Yes, we need more clover. Here’s why!”

Hanging Farm Gates to Last – An Expert’s Advice

Hanging a Gate 001This week, retired fencing contractor Micheál Geoghegan talked to Agridirect.ie about hanging farm field gates that will last. Micheál has hung hundreds of farm gates over the years. His advice is laid out here in a simple 9-step guide.

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The Agademy Awards: our 5 favourite onscreen farmers

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Agridirect presents the Agademy Awards, in recognition of our favourite onscreen farmers. 

In our interview with author Ryan Dennis last week, he pointed out that farmers and their experiences are underrepresented in fiction. It’s hard to argue against that, and the same seems to hold true for film and television. The Academy Awards took place at the weekend, but there were no depictions of farmers among the winners.

Nonetheless, cinema has given us some memorable farmers over the years. Therefore, we at Agridirect decided it was time to create the Agademy Awards, to acknowledge what we consider to be the best and most entertaining representations of farmers ever to have graced our screens. In today’s blog, we select our 5 nominees, and give you our winner (number 1). Continue reading “The Agademy Awards: our 5 favourite onscreen farmers”

Can we save the Irish family farm? We talk to author Ryan Dennis

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Agridirect discusses the future of Irish farming with author Ryan Dennis.

Ryan Dennis, author of new agricultural novel The Beasts They Turned Away, hails from a farming family in upstate New York. Long before he was a published writer, Ryan learned how to manage a dairy herd. In his own words, “I am the 4th generation in my family to milk cows”.

It is also likely that his will be the last generation of the family to work the milk parlour. The Dennis family stopped milking cows in 2014, at a point when farm gate prices had cratered so badly that “500 cow dairies weren’t breaking even”. It was the inevitable outcome of decades of productionist agricultural policy that has decimated the family farm in the United States. Continue reading “Can we save the Irish family farm? We talk to author Ryan Dennis”

The 4 Best Supplements for Breeding Cows

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As breeding season approaches, Agridirect offers farmers some advice on the best vitamin and mineral supplements for breeding cows.

Calving season is over: out of the frying pan…

Well, calving season is – hopefully – at an end for most of us. Perhaps we can risk a breather, but only a short one. Days of peace, quiet and leisure time do not feature in the farmer’s calendar. With this year’s calves up and running on spring grass, our attention turns, inevitably, to the breeding season.

A cow’s gestation period is around 247 days, so that leaves a very small window of time before cows go to the bull. Farmers who had calves in February will put the bull in shortly. Continue reading “The 4 Best Supplements for Breeding Cows”

Why do fences fall apart? We ask a retired fencing contractor

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Retired fencing contractor Micheál Geoghegan from Aghacashel, Co. Leitrim. Micheál worked as a fencing contractor for 30 years. He is pictured on his farm with his dog, Dasher.

Spring is fencing season. Here at Agridirect, we sat down for a conversation with Micheál Geoghegan, a retired fencing contractor from Aghacashel, Co. Leitrim. In this interview, Micheál offers some top fencing tips for farmers. 

Participants:

Agridirect interviewer: I

Micheál Geoghegan: MG

 

I: Micheál, we’re just coming into April, so a lot of farmers in this part of the country are putting animals onto pasture. It’s the time of year when you see a lot of sheep and cattle on the road. The more adventurous animals will always test a fence for sweeter or thicker grass. In your experience, what are the most common mistakes that people make when putting up a fence?

MG: Most fences come apart because the straining posts aren’t secured properly.

When corner strainers aren’t tied back and propped correctly, they will come loose. That collapses the fence. The whole thing just falls apart. The same applies to any posts on bends in the fence, any posts that are taking a sideways pull. If those aren’t secured against the pull, they’ll snap very quickly. Your strainers and corner posts are the bones of your fence. They have to be rock solid if you want a fence to last. Continue reading “Why do fences fall apart? We ask a retired fencing contractor”

Why rural Ireland misses in-person marts

Livestock Mart 001Agridirect discusses how in-person marts were an important social outlet for Irish farmers, and argues for their post-pandemic return.

 

A comic strip on page 2 of last week’s Irish Farmers Journal caught my eye. In the foreground of the scene, Taoiseach Micheál Martin engages Agriculture Minister Charlie MacConalogue in conversation.

An Taoiseach: Could we reopen the marts just for the over 80s, Charlie?

Minister MacConalogue: They’re all vaccinated Taoiseach, it could work!

Off to the right, in the background, elderly farmers queue up for what looks like a late bar or nightclub. But the sign above the door reads “MART”. Another sign, at the top of the queue, sets out the entry requirements: “Over 80s only”. A tuxedoed bouncer wearing dark glasses stands in the doorway, checking IDs, ready to turn away anyone not yet an octogenarian.

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Our Top 5 Polytunnel Vegetables

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Following on from last week’s Top 5 Vegetables for your Lockdown Garden, Agridirect chooses the 5 best vegetables for your lockdown polytunnel or greenhouse.

So, your polytunnel is ready. Your greenhouse is good to go. At last.

You’ve slogged for days, digging, shoveling and pitching. You’ve turned sods, broken up clods, and wheeled in endless barrows of compost. You’ve just spent hours tidying up your ridges, hammering in your timbers and – if you’re the perfectionist type – making sure the ridges are straight, the beds level as a snooker table. Continue reading “Our Top 5 Polytunnel Vegetables”