RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 6

Ear to the Ground

Rory and Simon Best are the only two brothers in Irish rugby history who have both captained the Irish team. Darragh McCullough meets them to talk farming and professional rugby. During the World Cup in 2007, at the pinnacle of his career, Simon felt a tingle in his hand that would change his life forever; he suffered a mini-stroke and had to retire. Having inherited a farm in Co. Armagh from his parents, Simon was fortunate to have the option to farm. Growing grain and rearing cattle is a radical departure for Simon from his rugby career. His equally ambitious brother Rory, although currently injured, is a key Ulster and Ireland player and also an enthusiastic breeder of Angus cattle.

Sea bass is a popular fish in Ireland but believe it or not, the sea bass we eat here is farmed off the Greek coast. While it was almost extinct in the 1980s, sea bass is now in plentiful supply in Irish waters as a result of a ban on commercial fishing. If an Irish trawler catches sea bass, they cannot sell it so it must be discarded. The Federation of Irish Fishermen is calling for this ban to be lifted. Without competition from commercial fishermen, anglers are free to catch sea bass and bass sport fishing is worth an estimated ¤8 million to the economy. A major row is developing between the trawlermen and onshore anglers. As the debate rages on, Helen travels to Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford to meet both commercial fishermen and those who rely on sea bass tourism for their livelihood.

As we all know, robots are no longer the preserve of science-fiction, they are increasingly becoming aids to modern life and the farmyard is no exception. While robots in the milking parlour aren't entirely new, advancements in technology mean that we can now integrate grazing, a key element of Irish farming, with the convenience of robotic milking. Ella McSweeney meets farmers in Tipperary who have invested in robots and they tell her how they have changed the way they farm.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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