Farming Connect Study Visit - Cardigan and District Grassland Society
Funded through the Knowledge Transfer, Innovation and Advisory Service programme under the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020
Cardigan and District Grassland Society
22 - 24 June 2022
We went to Scotland as several of the members had heard that the Royal Highland Show was very agriculturally focused, and a good place to learn about new developments and opportunities within the industry.
As well as this, a member of our society had visited Scotland a few years ago, and was very impressed with the scale and efficiencies of farming there. Myself and the rest of the group were keen to go and see this for ourselves.
In the current climate of high milk prices (at the moment) and high input prices, we thought it was important to see what others are doing to cope with these challenges.
2.1 Day 1 (23 June 2022) we attended the Royal Highland Show. The key points our members took away were:
- JCB’s new electric loaders. They had an example of a dairy farmer who had solar panels and a solar battery, and his JCB loader was costing him £0.70 a day to run. However, the purchase price of the electric loader is roughly 50% higher than its diesel equivalent. As can be seen from the picture below, there is a storage space where the engine would normally be.
The JCB engineer who was telling us about it also said that Hydrogen JCBs would be available in the future, but only on the larger machines because of the amount of hydrogen needed, meaning that a small machine would have to have an unrealistically big tank.
- We spoke to David McNaughton from Soya UK about the possible benefits of growing Blue Lupins with or without barley as a wholecrop. Lupins have a very similar amino acid profile as soya being high in sulphur amino acids, such as lysine and methionine, which are the first two limiting amino acids in dairy cow diets.
- Ferrier Pumps had an interesting concept of solar-powered borehole pumps, so that if a new borehole is drilled near the top of the farm, the pump can fill a large concrete tank when the sun is out, which then feeds water to the farm by gravity. They had calculations that for a 16,000L tank, it would require four solar panels to run the pump in marginal weather conditions.
- Several companies were promoting slurry management systems which, although not new, are becoming more important, both to increase the amount of nutrient from the slurry going into the soil and reducing the pollution potential of the slurry.
2.2 Day 2 (24 June) we visited Kennetsideheads farm. Unfortunately, due to changes to the check-in process at the airport, we were not able to visit the second farm on our trip. Kennetsideheads was a fascinating farm to visit. They were milking 1200 dairy cows and growing 1000 acres of wheat to feed the cows. This was massively reducing their reliance on bought-in feed and costs.
The wheat being grown was treated with caustic soda and 6.5kg/per cow/per day was fed all the way through lactation. Slurry storage was a current issue on the farm as they are also in an NVZ and had invested heavily in slurry towers.
We then flew home at 19:00 and were picked up by a minibus to take us back to Cardigan.
3 Next Steps
Several of the group are now thinking about growing lupins after having spoken to David Mcnaughton.
As the weather conditions change and possibly feed prices become more erratic, we may have to consider growing more wheat in west Wales (which several farms already do) to feed stock. However, land availability is a limiting factor.
JCB’s electric loader definitely gave us food for thought, both in terms of running costs and environmental impact.
We have the winter programme looming when we invite speakers to come and address the group on a certain topic. I will be suggesting that we explore each of the three above ideas further over the winter.