Tom Barry: Wet weather means I can’t get valuable slurry out on to my crops

by precious2192

Tillage farming in 2024 is proving challenging on all fronts. Firstly, the weather has been very broken and with few opportunities to get crops set. The weather also is making driving conditions through winter cereals difficult. 

The second item in the back of every tillage farmer’s mind is the poor cereal prices and low demand for Irish grain at present. The coming harvest prices are not encouraging. Finally the high costs of inputs such as seed, fertiliser and diesel are a worrying factor given grain price is low. This, coupled with high land leasing costs driven inadvertently by the nitrates regulations, is threatening the whole viability of the tillage sector.

I was fortunate to get a good acreage of winter crops set in early October. I set winter wheat, barley, oats, rye and beans. The strong rotation which I use has been valuable this year in helping the emergence and growth of my winter crops even in wet and cold conditions. 

I sprayed all the cereal crops once in late November for weeds and aphids. I also broadcast and rolled in cover crops, which consisted of a simple two-way mix of leafy turnip and fodder rape in September. I once again planted my winter beans by broadcasting the seed at 200kg/Ha on the stubble and ploughing down on November 15, 2023.

The weather was the dominant factor since setting. No crops were rolled due to the seedbeds being damp. 

The establishment of winter barley and winter oats was good to excellent. Winter wheat crops displayed slug damage from wet, loose seedbed, but generally came out of the winter well. Winter rye was the problem crop as establishment was patchy with headlands and any wetter ground simply not growing. 

It put up no fight to wet weather and a quarter of the crop has failed. Winter beans once again are a fabulous crop even though I was nervous reducing my seed rate to 200 Kg/Ha. The lower rate is my attempt to reduce the crop density to allow for increased pod formation per plant. The worry was that the crows would attack and reduce the plant count resulting in a yield penalty.

My first trip into the fields was on January 26 to spray off the cover crops, which were established really well and gathered up all the available nutrients over the winter, and these will be available for this year’s crop.

I was going to set early spring barley following the cover crop but conditions never allowed. Given the poor grain price, I have opted to plant Caprice spring beans instead. These I hope to set in late March.

I kept an eye on the grass growth rates each week from Met Eireann, and as I saw an improvement, I got out and spread one bag per acre of urea 46% on February 19. This proved a good decision as it helped the crops grow and get healthy along with protecting plant tillers. 

The weather was very wet in the following weeks post-application, but the fertilised crops were resilient and performed well. I will follow up with a second fertiliser application of 24-2-10 shortly.

I soil-sampled every field on all farms this winter, and with this information, I will apply the minimum required Phosphorus and Potash. Due to the repeated annual application of organic manures from pig and dairy, the fertility indices are increasing and only base levels of artificial Phosphorus and Potash will be used. Teagasc, through the Signpost initiative, also deep soil carbon sampled several fields and used a drone to map biomass on field boundaries. I am awaiting these results.

Normally, I would have started applying slurry to the growing crops by now, but ground conditions will not allow us to travel without damaging the crop, so we will just have to wait.

On a positive note, when the weather does arrive, we will be well-prepared and ready to go. I have often seen years where crops were sown late, and the following weather was ideal for crops resulting in good yields. I hope the promised funding for the tillage sector materialises and that last year’s protein payment is retained.

These supports are very important to the tillage sector and especially to promote home grown protein. Considering the delays due to weather and the huge workload ahead on tillage farms, it is very important to prioritise safety while getting the work done.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

multipurpose site for ROV ,drone services,mineral ores,ingots,agro commodities-oils,pulses,fatty acid distillate,rice,tomato concentrate,animal waste -gallstones,maggot feed ,general purpose niche -consumer goods,consumer electronics and all .Compedium of news around the world,businesses,ecommerce ,mineral,machines promotion and affiliation and just name it ...
multipurpose site for ROV ,drone services,mineral ores,ingots,agro commodities-oils,pulses,fatty acid distillate,rice,tomato concentrate,animal waste -gallstones,maggot feed ,general purpose niche -consumer goods,consumer electronics and all .Compedium of news around the world,businesses,ecommerce ,mineral,machines promotion and affiliation and just name it ...

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy