November 2021 Monthly Management

Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC); Drinagh Silage Analysis; Grass & Grazing

22 November 2021

Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC)

The Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC)
FIGURE 1: The Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC). Actions on the left of the MACC graph reduce emissions and save money at the same time (win-win); items on the right also reduce emissions but there is a cost involved.

Under the Climate Action Plan 2030, the government has set out a target of a 30% reduction in emissions from agriculture by 2030 compared to 2018 levels. The target set is very challenging, but Teagasc has been working with leading research institutes to establish many practical solutions to help bring emissions down and reach the targets set out. These have been published in a technical paper called the Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve which sets out several actions which farmers can take across agricultural production. This tool gives an estimate of the volume and costs of opportunities we have to reduce emissions by 2030. Each box on the curve represents a different action to reduce emissions. The graph is ordered left to right from the lowest cost on the left-hand side to the highest cost actions on the right-hand side of the graph. It also visualises the magnitude of the abatement potential of each measure, as indicated by the width of each bar and standard urea-based fertilisers.

The main agricultural production measures include:

  • Animal Breeding - continued good, efficient farming (improving Economic Breeding Index [EBI] and beef genetic merit and the use of sexed semen,
  • Fertiliser Choices - switching to protected urea, which significantly cuts emissions of nitrous oxide compared to calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN).
  • Slurry Management - spreading as much slurry in the right weather conditions and using a low emissions way of spreading it, such as the trailing shoe or dribble bar gives better recycling of manure nitrogen, lower ammonia emissions and lower nitrous oxide emissions. Slurry additives also have a significant role to play in the reduction of emissions from slurry.
  • Animal Nutrition - Grazed grass has lower emissions than total mixed ration diets (Indoor systems) Removing excess protein also is important to reduce nitrogen-based losses. Some feeds additives are being developed to aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ruminants (cattle & sheep).
  • Grassland Management - better grassland utilisation (measuring and managing grass accurately) and the incorporation of clover into grassland, extending the grazing season and getting soil pH and soil fertility right will make a huge difference.

While many efficiency measures (particularly those predicated on genetic improvement) are incremental in nature, the uptake of practical measures like slurry & grassland management and nitrogen-use efficiency could be accelerated showing significant gains in meeting the 2030 targets.

Drinagh Silage Analysis

Silage quality analysis is an essential tool in formulating diets and calculating feed stocks on farms. Where the quality of the silage is not known, it can lead to losses through reduced performance especially where cow body condition is low or over-supplementation of concentrates if silage is better than assumed. This applies to both dry cows and winter milk herds. In addition to this, a key parameter such as the dry matter content of silage is important in working out the actual amount of feed available to you during the winter months.

Drinagh Advisory Services can analyse forages for our customers with our Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) Scanner. This device is capable of analysing a range of forages including grass silage, maize silage, wholecrop silage, fresh grass and moist concentrate feed. The nutrients analysed include dry matter, crude protein, dry matter digestibility (DMD), metabolisable energy, NDF, ADF, starch, sugar, pH and lactic acid with a quick turnaround with results compared to conventional testing alternatives.

By optimising these comprehensive forage analysis results, with the addition of nutritional advice, an optimal overall feeding programme for any group of livestock on farm can be formulated.

Drinagh will be conducting feeding advice at the upcoming Winter Feeding and Milk Quality Branch Open Days. Silage samples must be submitted to your nearest branch before Thursday 25th of November and results will be discussed in person on the respective open day dates (see newsletter timetable for more information)

To find out more on silage analysis or to arrange a test, contact Darren Lynch or Ciara Sheehan.

Grass & Grazing

This month’s feature farm is Denis Collins, Letterlickey, Bantry

Denis Harnedy
Date 18/11/2021
Average farm cover (AFC) 508
Final Rotation end Date 20th November
Yield (litres/cow) 14.6 litres
Butterfat% 5.17%
Protein % 3.85%
Kgs Milk Solids / cow 1.35kg/ms/cow

The grazing season will finish up here on November 20th. The cows have been out by day and in by night on good quality silage bales for the last 2 weeks. The in-calf heifers were housed on the 12th of November, and we plan to house the youngstock still at grass at the end of November.

The first paddock was closed here the start of October. There is a cover of approx. 1,000 kg/DM/Ha on it now. By the end of November, I estimate it will have a cover of 1,200 kg/DM/Ha and that farm cover will be approx. 620 kg/DM/Ha. This will be on target for my stocking rate.

The cows are currently milking 14.6 litres with 5.17% butterfat and 3.85% protein, with 3kg of ration and good quality first cut bales included in the diet. Total ration fed in 2021 is on track to be 620kg per cow.

To date, a third of the milking cows have been dried off and the plan is to dry off the rest of the herd by early December. All first calvers were treated with teat sealer only. Based on their SCC status and milk recordings, a quarter of the remaining herd that are to be dried off will be treated with dry cow therapy plus sealer while the remainder will be teat sealed only.

After drying off abruptly, cows are teat-sprayed every evening at the headfeed for two weeks and cubicles are kept clean and limed.