Teagasc plans on gearing its farm management advice to encourage farmers to build up fodder stocks over the coming year after a long housing period ate into buffers, the authority’s knowledge transfer director Stan Lalor has said.

Lalor suggested that securing a fodder cushion for winter 2024 should be a priority for farmers.

He insists that Teagasc advisory services have proven their worth in assisting farmers through the delayed spring by establishing a fodder register and setting up an advice helpline for farmers struggling with the weather conditions.

“We have been very busy in recent months helping farmers manage through the weather. We were steering farmers getting stock out to grass and assisting with crop selection where planting was delayed,” Lalor told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Budgets and plans

“For advisory, attention now will be to fodder stocks for the coming year. We will be putting a strong focus on looking at fodder budgets and this will play into fertiliser and silage and plans.

“There was a buildup of stocks from a relatively good 2021, which helped in 2022 and probably carried over somewhat into 2023. These stocks are not there now.”

Advisory supports will see a focus put on facilitating supply agreements between tillage and livestock farmers for crops like maize, with farmers also securing their straw supplies early.

On the tillage side of the house, farm advice will be tailored to crops going in later than planned, with a focus on any husbandry adjustment needed and on preparing for dealing with late harvesting.

“On tillage and horticulture, there is a lot of catching up on farms.

“One of the things we are conscious of is that farmers might have had to move away from crop rotations in the planting opportunities they had,” he said.

BISS applications on par with 2023

Teagasc’s Stan Lalor has stated that applications for the Basic Income Support for Sustainability Scheme (BISS) are currently on par with previous years’ payment applications.

As both farmers and advisers are more familiar with BISS and its application process, less administration issues have been reported than had cropped up in 2023.

“This is a very important period for farmers and advisers. “There is an awful lot of money flowing,” he said.

Call to action

“Our call to action would be that farmers don’t leave it until the last minute to apply. Every adviser, be they with Teagasc or operating privately, wants to submit the best application they possibly can, so it’s important that farmers engage early and have all required paperwork on hand.”

Restructuring gets under way at Teagasc

Teagasc director Frank O’Mara announced in February that the advisory wing of the agency would undergo restructuring during 2024 which would see advisers split between scheme work and technical advice.

The move comes after growth in the number and level of complexity tied to farm schemes in recent years.

This review is already under way and stems from the onus on Teagasc to be on-hand to deliver technical guidance to farmers, Stan Lalor, Teagasc director of knowledge transfer, explained this week.

“There is a need and a responsibility to provide support on schemes.

“But there is also a need to support farm advice on the adoption of technology, on farm viability, on health and safety. We have to look at that and review new ways we can do that.”