Farming & Fisheries

Ballinadee Macra trio takes national prize for farming skills and expertise

August 27th, 2021 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

All-Ireland winning Ballinadee Macra members, Aidan Dullea, Aidan Sweetnam, and William O’Neill.

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PERSEVERANCE paid off for three members of Ballinadee Macra who are this year’s winners of the National Macra na Feirme Farm Skills competition.

Aidan Dullea, Aidan Sweetnam and William O’Neill finished in fifth place in the prestigious competition in 2018, moving up to third spot in 2019 and then to second in 2020.

Determined to take the overall title, hours of practice and a concerted team effort saw them take the top prize earlier this month, winning out over teams from clubs in Fermoy, Callan and Kilrush.

The idea behind the competition, sponsored by FBD, is to help young farmers develop the skills required in modern farming, and also to create a greater awareness of farm safety.

There are three elements to the competition: tractor skills, farming knowledge and fencing, explained Aidan Dullea.

The 28-year-old dairy and beef farmer from Killountain outside Bandon met his Ballinadee teammates through Macra. He’s been a member for around 10 years.

The tractor section demands particularly strong team and precision work. It requires one team member to put two round bales on two pallets using a bale handler on the rear. Another member must reverse a roller through the course and unhook it, taking one pallet and bale and putting it on a raised platform. The third member places the remaining bale and pallet on the remaining platform, and it’s all against the clock.

The farming knowledge is a written team quiz where the lads had to answer 30 questions on farm management; farm safety; crop management; machinery management; animal husbandry; and general farm issues – in 30 minutes.

For the final task, the trio had to manually erect an approximately 10m-long, L-shaped, stock-proof fence using machined four inch posts, driven manually.

Each end had to have a H-frame and the corner post had to have a double H-frame. The stock-proof fence had to consist of two strands of high-tensile wire. Teams had to form a 90 degree angle between the two end posts using the third turner post.

Various other specific methods had to be used and incorporated in the task and teams had to complete it all in a swift 60 minutes.

A safety competition is also included in all three tasks and Ballinadee also won that award in the final.

Aidan Dullea said they had to work hard to qualify to represent the Carbery region. ‘It took us a few years to get there, but perseverance paid off!’ Ballinadee Macra has around 15 members and they are continuing their meetings online for now. Aidan said they were also open to new members and described it as a great social outlet.

As a young farmer, in partnership with his father, he’s confident about the future of agriculture.

‘This past year has been very good and I’d be hoping it would continue that way for another few years. My only concern as a young farmer would be that we’d be left carrying the can when it comes to meeting climate targets,’ he said.

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