ALAN Creighton (pictured), the Irish Equine Centre’s head of environment and nutrition and a keen breeder and pinhooker, closed the ITBA webinar with a discussion on how better land management can not only lead to sustainability and positive climate action, but will improve stock and save money.

“Test the soil, test the pasture,” he advised. “The growing season is getting longer and we need to benefit from the land. I would encourage people to have as many small paddocks as possible, to rotate and rest paddocks.

“Plant hedging, which is good for biodiversity, and make use of cross grazing, to get the best possible pasture. A good cushion of grass will benefit the growth of foals.

“Government policy will insist we reduce nitrogen fertiliser and it will become too expensive. Analysing a farm is very cheap to do, tests for pH levels are less than €10.

“If there is a low pH level the grass takes up more of the antagonistic minerals. Adjusting pH and getting it to 6.3 will maximise the other nutrients.

“Agri-scientists at the Centre will come out and test for the same cost. It’s a no-brainer, and is very cost-saving in fertiliser. The pH can change very quickly, so a little and often is very good. Within two growing seasons you can have a huge influence.

“Testing water, forage, soil and pasture can provide accurate farming, allowing you to make decisions based on facts, making your business more efficient and cost-effective.

“The cost is not off-putting. We do a breeding package which is highly subsidised for grass, soil and water testing, which includes an hour of us being on your farm, when you can ask questions and get advice.

“It’s an investment not a cost. If I tell you to halve your fertiliser, that’s a huge saving, and if I can optimise your yearlings for the sales, again that’s a good investment.

“The IEC is used by breeders and trainers around the world and respected and envied around the world, and yet here in Ireland we take it for granted and tend only use it if a problem arises.

“Anything the big stud farms do, the small breeder can also do. The IEC is an industry asset and we should be using it and must support it.”

With this is mind Shane O’Dwyer discussed a collaborative approach to offers and announced a soil, mineral and water analysis package available to ITBA members. Full details can be found on page 19.