Practical rush management put in focus

Graeme Campbell, of DAERA, discussing trial plots
Graeme Campbell, of DAERA, discussing trial plots

The Mid Tyrone Lamb Producer Group partnered with DAERA to hold a Practical Rush Management event on Thursday, August 30th.

Two sessions were offered to all members of the group and to the wider public. Both the sessions started off in Plumbridge Parochial Hall for a short introduction.

CAFRE representatives with quad and rush licker

CAFRE representatives with quad and rush licker

The basis of the event was to ensure people are eligible for the schemes they work alongside and manage their rush in accordance with the environment and maximising grazing potential. Rush are found in acidic soils; therefore, soil analysis is imperative to understand what the ground needs to achieve the target Ph of 5.5 in heavy/peaty soil. Soil analysis gives farmers the best return on their money for the detailed information received regarding the land.

Each rush stem has approximately 8,500 seeds per shoot and these seen can lay dormant for up to 60 years. Consider this when using rushes as bedding. To aid in the prevention of rush, investing in drainage and reduce stocking levels is important. There are however a few benefits to a low percentage rush in your fields as they provide shelter for young lambs and calves, the Irish hare and ground nesting birds.

Moving out to the demonstration field, where visitors were transported by Ward Travel, the group got to see and understand eligible rush. Eligible rush is a standalone rush, not a group of rushes merging to make one big group or rush. The rush must not be dense and must have grass growing in-between allowing animals to forage. The eligible rush will also be green in colour rather than ineligible rush which are brown and very tall.

There are four trail plots in the field: 1 The control which has had nothing done to the rush and will be used to compare the treatments. 2 MCPA application. 3 Roundup Energy with Weed Wiper. 4 Cutting Only.

O'Kane Contracts with quad and mulcher

O'Kane Contracts with quad and mulcher

There will be a follow-up next year to identify which application had the best success, but DAERA officials believe the Roundup Energy with Weed Wiper will exceed the other treatments. The group also got to avail of demonstrations by local contractors Gerard Hegarty with his tractor and grass mulcher, O’Kane Contractors with his quad and mulcher and CAFRE also brought their rush licker with brush head.

Back in the hall, there was a talk from NI Water who told the group of the importance of responsible chemical usage. MCPA is hard to breakdown and lingers in water for up to 30 days. A spillage of 1g of MCPA requires 10 million litres of water to dilute it down so it fits EU regulations on water quality for safe drinking.

Both the sessions where a great success and seen people attend from as far as Mayo, Down and Antrim to get advice in rush management. It will no doubt be as popular next year when we return to see the results of the trials. A big thanks to all the support from the organisers, local farmers and the hall committee who provided great hospitality.

Gerard Hegarty Contracts with tractor and mulcher

Gerard Hegarty Contracts with tractor and mulcher