he business returned to the full ownership of the Phelan family this year, despite only being eight years into a 15-year project with Glanbia and the Agricultural Trust to showcase best practice in the conversion of a greenfield site into a fully functional dairy farm.
The company leased 117 hectares and invested over €1m to develop a low-cost, labour-efficient farm infrastructure for a 300-cow herd.
However, earlier this year the Phelan family indicated that after a decade of partial involvement in the high-profile project, they wanted to return to day-to-day farming of the holding in a more traditional family farming structure.
Jack Kennedy, Michael Magan and Michael Horan stepped down as directors of the Greenfield Farm company, leaving Edward and Eamon Phelan as the sole directors.
And now the farm’s infrastructure is set for a major overhaul with over 5,000 square metres of new sheds being built at the site.
Planning documents with Kilkenny County Council show permission was granted for the construction of an agricultural building over the site of existing roofless cubicles, wintering pad and lagoon, to include modification of the lagoon to underground slatted tank and additional cubicles.
According to the documents, the Phelans are farming 346 adjusted acres and milking 320 cows, with plans to keep the numbers at that level.
Cows are planned to be milked for 16 weeks of the closed period and the farm will have 1,689 sq m of slurry storage capacity. This equates to 29.7 weeks of slurry storage.
The floor area of the proposed sheds is 5,394 sq , while the floor area of the existing buildings is 902 sq m.
It is stated that the proposed development to roof the entire area will reduce the amount of soiled water in the yard, which will help meet European regulations in regards to soiled water storage.
A damning report on the Greenfield Farm in 2018 found that management and staff on the industry-backed farm were not adequately prepared for Storm Emma, which left six cattle dead that year.
The report was commissioned by the board of the Greenfield Dairy Farm. It found that there were insufficient silage stocks on the farm before Storm Emma, as well as governance and management issues.
All the report’s recommendations were “fully accepted” by the partners at the time.