Waterford farmer to appear on new series of RTE's Ear To The Ground

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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Waterford farmer to appear on new series of RTE's Ear To The Ground

Waterford farmer to appear on new series of RTE's Ear To The Ground

A Waterford farmer is set to appear on the first episode of the new series of RTE's farming series Ear To The Ground next week.

Edmond Phelan from Caher will have his beef farm featured on the show as it begins it's 26th series on Thursday, October 25, at 8.30pm on RTÉ One.

While farmer protests have yielded some support for beef cows in the recent budget, the long-term viability of the beef sector is in doubt. With most farmers losing money on cattle, how long can they continue to raise specialist beef, the show will probe. 

Viewers will learn that Edmond Phelan is reducing the number of cattle he will fatten his year. Instead, he has sold silage to a neighbouring dairy farmer and is growing more fodder crops for sale.

Jim Parkinson from Garrandee in Tipperary is an award-winning suckler cow producer but with expensive feed and poor prices he is wondering how long he can continue to subsidise his passion.

Also on the show, this year's water woes will feature as Ella McSweeney heads to Kilkenny. After the driest summer in 40 years, farmers around the country have had months of coping with a water shortage. Ella McSweeney travelled down to a section of the River Nore in Co Kilkenny to see how dairy farmers handled dry wells and burnt fields. She asks if water is the new quota.

Farmers Gerry and James Nolan, a father and son team from Clara, had to draw water from the River Nore in an attempt to survive the drought. The effects are still being seen and they are still struggling with low water pressure. The show also takes a look at a new regime of water regulation that will commence this November, governing extraction of water from public waterways.

Alpaca farming will also feature as the show visits Paul and Elizabeth McDonnell in Moneyquid, Laois. The couple moved there 10 years ago needing to find a way to keep the grass down on their acreage. Unwilling to submit to the bureaucracy of cattle and sheep, they bought a couple of alpacas. Fast forward 10 years and their flock has expanded to one of the biggest in the country. 

Alpaca wool is very fine and also very valuable, but there is no processor in Ireland. So the couple have set up an alpaca owner association where they market their fleeces as wool, pillows and duvets. They also run courses for prospective alpaca owners and sell the surplus males to guard sheep flocks, and as pets. 

Helen Carroll joined the McDonnell family on shearing day and tried her hand at spinning the hypoallergenic fibres into wool. 

Ear to the Ground broadcasts on RTÉ One, Thursdays at 8.30pm.