Farming efficiency at its finest
Precision agriculture enables farmers to make informed decisions about their businesses and Frank Murphy represents the best in his class. One of the most advanced beef production units in Ireland, the 500 acres of Glen South Farm outside Banteer, Co Cork sets high standards in systems and mechanisation. Farming efficiency, profitability and quality of product are the main drivers on this farm. As Frank explains, “The Glen South ethos focuses on the wellbeing and welfare of our animals and controlling environmental impact.”
Fundamentally a beef finishing unit, Glen South Farm is run by two full-time staff and has a throughput of around 1500 head per year. The majority of the stock is based on Aberdeen Angus and Hereford achieving an average kill-out of 320kg. Year-round the finishers are housed and fed an “a la carte” diet consisting mainly of grass silage, maize silage, wholecrop and beet by a fully robotised Lely Vector feeding system. The robot feeding system means regular replenishment of fresh food, reduced labour, reduced tractor requirements, lower fuel consumption and “free weekends.”
Throughout the summer months, lighter stock run on 300 acres of grazing land, which is strategically managed to maximise crop performance and to generate the maximum return on investment. “Generally the land is grazed every three to four weeks. The actual management of the grass is crucial to the overall development of the farm,” Frank explains. “This is important for the efficiency of the grass as well as our international reputation. So I wanted a high class mower that is able to follow the animals.”
As soon as the livestock move from one paddock to another, Frank’s team follow with their Major MJ30-560 Cyclone Mower. The 5.6m (18ft) working width is constructed into three sections holding eight rotating discs and 32 blades. The arms fold up to just over 2 metres wide for transport.
“We’ve had three of these Major Cyclone mowers over the years which shows we’re happy with them,” enthuses Frank. “We’ve increased the size from the initial eight foot (2.5m), followed by a twelve foot (3.5m) and now this big one. The only reason we change is because we traded up when Major introduced larger models. The mowers are spectacular in what they do and the larger the mower, the more efficient we can be.”
“We set them to low cut – about two inches – and because they come with three wing sections and have a roller at the back, they follow the contours of the ground without scalping and maintain an even height of cut. They completely shred and clear the remnants of the grazing, scatter the cow pats and leave the pasture in the perfect condition for a rapid and even recovery. There’s no need for any clear-up afterwards. This has made our life a lot easier and our time much more efficient.”
Major Cyclone mowers are manufactured from Strenx™ 700 MC high-strength steel, which means an extremely durable construction for long life and reliability. A patented, double-chop blade system disintegrates crop residue. Under-sole discs made of Hardox® 450 means they are abrasion resistant and last a long time.
“Not only do we use the Major Cyclone for pasture maintenance, but we also use it for crop stubble clearance because it’s really efficient at reducing crop waste,” Frank asserts. One hundred acres of Glen South Farm is dedicated to whole crop production of maize and beet.
“In my experience with the Cyclone, we have never had a breakdown or replaced any parts. They are very easy to service and maintain. Setting cut-height is very simple. They do an amazing job in the field and are easy to drive – they need much less horsepower than flailed toppers. Less horsepower means less fuel, which is another environmental benefit and lowers operating costs, all of which adds up to the overall efficiency of the farm. Better efficiency means better profitability.”
“You can easily tell which of our fields have been topped by the Cyclone because it leaves a striped, even finish right across the grass – almost like a lawn finish. I think that very much reflects the pride we have in everything we do,” he beams.
With the assistance of technology, Frank assures Glen South Farm consistently produces high quality beef efficiently and sustainably, ensuring the viability of the farm for future generations. With plans to increase the herd from 340 to 1,000 at full capacity, a bigger machine would support Frank’s vision in precision farming. “We might go bigger if Major develops another one in due course, but this matches our needs very well at the moment.”