Business News AUGUST 2018 €120 million to invest in Irish agritech Hopefully, by the time you read this, the weather and the growth and all that those bring with them will have settled down to a more normal Irish routine. InTouch has experienced one of its busiest seasons to date — as if we have never left winter behind and all that has really changed is the temperature. Getting back on track will involve good growth in the back end of the year and replenishing feed stocks for the winter. While there is a knee-jerk reaction of buying straw at €30-plus per bale or paying €1,000 an acre for whole crop, we must take a step back and take a breath. Yes, most farms will be in short supply and prices will be higher later in the season, but most farms that InTouch has completed feed budgets for will be able to source better feed in a most cost-e ective way by planning. There are many ways to extend: by using straw, moist feeds, forage extenders, extra concentrates and alternative forages, like whole crop, maize and beet. There are also other management areas to concentrate on over the next two months. Maintaining milk yield now and over the back end is important. As we are now post-peak milk yield, cows are hopefully in calf, and we now have an opportunity to start regaining the condition we lost over the last few months. Scanning cows is an important task, too, and is the possibility of o oading any “empty” cows rather than feeding for the coming months. InTouch is currently monitoring milk yield closely; an automated trigger on our system will alert us should milk yield fall below 2 percent per week. This is where most of the annual milk yield is lost: when cows drop too quickly and never recover due to dry matter intake and, to a lesser extent, quality of feed. While it is hard to believe, grass will start to grow again after a welcome rainfall, reducing the soil moisture deficit, and we will go from a famine to a feast once more. Taking advantage of this — by making sure we are grazing the right covers, capitalising on excess grass and conserving for the winter — will be key. For those who have autumn calving dry cows, the main area to address is calving without any metabolic issues, which are linked to body condition and mineral imbalance. Feeding on high-potassium (K) grass during this period, which is a simple process, is the root cause of this issue. The use of a good supplementation and correct mineral balancing will ensure the work does not begin after calving. Take time to plan a strategy for feed shortage. Maintain milk yield by monitoring intake and quality. Manage grass over the next few months. Talk to local supplier about the best mineral for your dry cow. • Many advisory sources are willing to help with feed shortage advice • • • • This year at the National Ploughing Championships, New Zealand based Agritech Accelerator Sprout has identified the Innovation Arena as a key place to look for Irish agritech innovation. James Bell-Booth from Sprout commented: “Agritech is a global agenda now, finding talent that can revolutionise how our agricultural and horticultural industries perform is key to our principles”. James added that Sprout is looking to Ireland, a country that shares many similarities in farming with New Zealand, two world class food producers, capable of providing nutrition for 80 million people. At this year’s Innovation Arena, Sprout will be involved in the overall judging and the pitch competition. Depending on the projects they see potential to grow on a global scale, investments will be made according to James. Sprout have the potential for an investment pool of money worth €120 million, from their corporate partners. These partners include New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra , Gallagher Fencing and Callaghan Innovation. Sprout will join a network of other agritech investors at the Innovation Arena this year. Finisterre who are already based in Ireland, have a €40 million fund, and the Yield Lab who work with early stage companies will be looking for participants to enter their accelerator. Enterprise Ireland will also announce the winners of their Competitive Start Fund for Agritech and Marine. James Maloney who project manages the Innovation Arena for Enterprise Ireland, along with their partners in the Irish Farmers Journal, and the National Ploughing Association, said that the level of interest from investors is higher than previous years. He added that this is a result of successful Irish innovation across the world. The Innovation Arena is full to capacity, added James with a very high level of research and technology projects, along with some top quality engineering. The new look event features the first ever two storey structure at the National Ploughing, the upstairs conference area will host key presentations on agritechnology throughout the three days. Matt Ryan awarded Lifetime Merit by IGA The team at Irish Farmers Monthly want to pass on our congratulations to our long-time contributor Matt Ryan, who recently received the Irish Grassland Association’s Lifetime Merit Award for services to Irish grassland farming. The award was presented to Matt at a dinner in Cork on the eve of the IGA Dairy Summer Tour. Turn to page 66 for more on this story. Key points 10 Matt Ryan and his wife Pat are surrounded by family and friends as Matt is presented with Irish Grassland Association Lifetime Merit Award