Springing into Hope.
The daffodils are in full bloom and primroses are appearing on the woodland walks, the evenings are a little brighter and the days definitely are, it’s even a little warmer sometimes! Hopefully we are nearing the springtime growing period very soon.
Every Dairy Farmer at this time of the year is nervously anticipating the the coming Silage crops. This current year will be more important than ever for the Dairy Farming community as fertiliser for the growing crops has become more expensive and difficult to buy than ever before.
The price of fertilisers normally are between £150 and £300 per tonne, this has recently rocketed to over £1000 per tonne! If the farmers cannot afford to buy as much fertiliser for their crops then they run the risk of not having sufficient silage to feed their cows during the winter months, which would obviously be a terribly serious situation.
On our own farms we have replaced the artificial fertiliser with a nutritious bi-product from our Anaerobic Digestion process called Digestate. This dark coloured odourless liquid is rich in Phosphate, Potash and Nitrogen, and is easily digested by the grass plant and produces lovely grass crops for silage making. We are therefore very lucky to be able to save some cost and grow our crops in a “greener” way, if you will excuse the pun! This is a great example of the old adage ‘if you look after nature, nature will look after you’. My mother would say this frequently and how right she was.
This Digestate is produced during the biological digestion of waste products from our Cheesemaking Dairy and then becomes an excellent fertiliser for our growing crops, completing the cycle of Grass-Cows-Milk-Cheesemaking-Waste- Grass. A never ending virtuous cycle of sustainable farming. As I sit here writing this I am sure that the grass has grown a little!
Normally we expect up to four cuts of silage grass during the summer months if we are lucky with the growing season, and maybe three in a less favourable year.
As I mentioned earlier, this year will be critical for the survival of many Dairy Farmers and much weather watching, hoping and praying will take place. No wonder farmers are never said to be happy with the weather!