Stephen Crawford, a third generation farmer and his father William, own and operate a dairy farm near Gracehill in Co. Antrim.
Stephen came home to the farm, helping to milk 65 cows and farm 140 acres, after attending CAFRE at Greenmount a little over 20 years ago.
Today, milking 220 cows and farming nearly 250 acres, Stephen enjoys the challenge of progressing the farm while focusing on improving the herd and the land.
Stephen knows the value of reseeding his grass swards to maintain the high quality forages that he feeds to his high yielding dairy cows.
“I inspect the fields each year and determine which are suitable for turning over and sowing back to grass, and which should go into wheat for a year or two before being sown out to grass,” explained Stephen.
“I farm a rotation that includes 200 acres of grass and 50 acres of wheat split between winter and spring varieties which I feed as whole-crop forage along with the grass through the diet feeder,” Stephen continued.
“I sow G-Lime with the new crops because with the small roots on the seedlings, it is critical to make sure the plants are picking up nutrients to get a good establishment.
“At a pH of 5.5, you lose half the value of nutrients, so you need to use lime to get the pH up and make sure the plants are getting everything they need.”
Stephen added: “We use G-Lime from John Thompson and Sons and I’ve bought it from them since they started offering it.
“I always sow the G-Lime with the wheat and buy a little extra to make sure I have enough to treat any grass fields that I think may be a problem.
“We soil test our fields and spread accordingly, with Thompsons always lending their expertise to make sure we apply the right amount.”
Stephen is always looking for ways to improve his own land and also get the most from his conacre land. “G-Lime was appealing from the start because of its quick reaction and its convenience. With conacre land, I’m never sure if I am going to get the land back the next year and conventional lime can take four-six months to react, so I always worried about not getting the benefit. With G-Lime I get a quick lift in four to six weeks to get the soil pH to the level the wheat needs, and I can sow the crop and go back with the G-Lime on the tramlines in my own time with no fear of compaction.”
Thompson’s Antrim advisor Basil Bailey has been selling G-Lime since its introduction to the market in 2004. Basil added: “Because Stephen pays close attention to his soil health, and specifically the pH of his soils, his crops are better able to extract the required amount of nutrients from the soil and that makes it easier for Stephen to harvest high quality forages.
“Customers who soil test to monitor soil health and use G-Lime to improve and maintain soil pH, consistently see improved grass yield and quality, better response to applied fertiliser, greater ryegrass and clover persistence as well as an improvement in soil structure - resulting in better drainage,” Basil said.
G-Lime is available in Bulk, 600kg toplift bags, 4x500kg quad packs and 30 x 50kg bags. Contact Thompsons on 02890351321 for more details.