All across the country, dairy farmers are taking steps to improve the environmental sustainability of their farms and in Lee Strand this is no different.
Managing soil fertility is a key challenge facing farmers whose herd graze outside. Maintaining the right balance of nutrients in the soil and managing soil structure are key to achieving high grass growing yields to sustain our dairy cows.
Our farmers are using a scientific approach to ensure optimum soil fertility levels are achieved by taking soil samples. Working with advisors to develop precise soil fertility maps of their fields to better understand their soil, drainage and nutrient demands and how this can vary from field to field.
Suppliers are encouraged to use PastureBase to measure grass grown on their farms. Using this data they can match stocking rates to individual fields to avoid overgrazing or can use the excess grass they have grown to make additional silage for the winter months.
Nitrogen is essential for plant and grass growth however this can be depleted by overgrazing or silage cutting. Lee Strand farmers are using protected urea, which is coated with a special urease inhibitor to reduce ammonia emissions, as a more sustainable way to reduce losses of ammonia and emission of Nitrous Oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
Slurry is an important source of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium and Lee Strand farmers are well aware of the benefits of using modern technology to apply slurry in a targeted manner. Many Lee Strand farmers use modern technology such as the dribble bar and the trailing shoe to ensure slurry is applied early in the growing season and at silage closing time to ensure optimum uptake of nutrients.
EBI is a single figure index aimed at helping farmers identify the most profitable bulls and cows for breeding dairy herd replacements. Over time this will help reduce emissions via improved fertility, increased milk yields, more compact calving, and improved animal survival and health.
Lee Strand farmers are all aware of their responsibilities around water quality. Many of our farmers have all their watercourses fenced off and do not allow any animals access to these streams. The agricultural sustainability support and advice programme work with farmers to help improve water quality and to break the pathway to prevent nutrients from entering watercourses on farms.
Our dairy farmers are very innovative when it comes to renewable energy. We are seeing solar panels, heat exchangers, variable speed vacuum pumps, gas water heating, heat to need and high-efficiency lights being installed on our farms.