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Break & Cover Crops

The main break crops grown in Ireland are beans and oilseed rape;

  • Beans provide a useful break crop for wheat or seed crops. They produce their own nitrogen and also leave residual nitrogen for the following crop
  • Oilseed rape acts as a break crop from the Take-all fungus which adversely affects wheat.  Yield of wheat sown after sowing rape can increase by 0.5-1.5 t/ha depending on the incidence of take all during the growing season

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The CROPQUEST desk study project was undertaken to identify new crops/products/markets that can facilitate sustainable, viable crop production on Irish arable farms. The current lack of rotation and limited cropping options combine to threaten future viability and production sustainability, as the increasing level of monoculture leads to reduced yields and higher costs over time. Non-cereal crops currently account for just 9.6% of the arable area. New CAP reform proposals may make rotation obligatory. This study has four elements:

  1. A comprehensive review of possible broad-acre cropping options, with focus on immediate need for break-crops.
  2. Identification and evaluation of crop/market options. This methodology included literature review, industry engagement and SWOT analysis to develop a database of crop/product options.
  3. Economic assessment of the value to Irish agriculture.