Very few farmers have planned to reseed as part of their dairy expansion plans, according to Ulster Bank, which is launching a new pasture loan for farmers.

“Dairy farmers are looking at increasing cow numbers, increasing milking parlour capacity, as well as cubicle capacity and slurry storage. However few farmers have a clear plan in relation to increased grass production and utilisation. From experience it is also evident that farmers who carry out pasture improvements from cash-flow can put their business under unnecessary pressure,” said Ailish Byrne of Ulster Bank.

The bank is launching a new pasture loan to support farmers invest in grass production and utilisation, which it says is one of the core profit-producing assets on farm.

Each individual tonne of grass utilised on Irish dairy farms is worth €161/ha, on average, yet only 2% of Irish grassland is reseeded annually, she said.

“Profit per hectare farmed is a key financial benchmark for all farms, and the profitability of Irish livestock systems is intrinsically linked to grass production and utilisation.”

Ailish was speaking in conjunction with Ulster Bank launching new pasture loan to support dairy, beef and sheep farmers invest in grass production and utilisation which is one of the core profit-producing assets on your farm.

In Ireland 81% (3.67m hectares) of the total agricultural area is devoted to pasture, hay and grass silage. This statistic, along with the fact that Ireland’s competitive advantage in milk, beef and lamb production is based on the efficient production and utilisation of pasture, highlights the need for Irish farms to ensure they have excellent grassland management practices on their farms.

“Productive soils are the foundation of any successful farm business. The demand within intensive grazing systems for high grass growth rates over an extended grazing season represents an increasing demand on soil fertility levels. As grass is our main feed during the grazing season, and the primary source of winter forage in the form of grass silage, soil fertility levels and re-seeding are key issues that must be addressed.”

According to the bank, the pasture loan is available to all farmers who are planning to implement improved grassland management practices on their farms to maximise grass production and utilisation. This includes: grazing infrastructure (paddocks, water systems, grassland measurement); drainage; reseeding underperforming swards; and, soil fertility (N, P, K and Lime).