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Darren Allen Farm Updates

June 2022

I caught up with Darren Allen of Ballymaloe Farm near Shanagarry in East Cork to talk about how the crops are looking and what his plans are for the next few weeks. Darren and his father Rory farm circa 300 acres of medium to heavy clay soils near Shanagarry in East Cork.

Winter Wheat

Darren is very happy with his crop of Graham winter wheat. It was sown on 15th October 2021 and establishment was excellent. Recently, and unexpectedly however, symptoms of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) have appeared in the crop, which is a worry. He has not sprayed for aphids in 10 years. Time will tell if this has had an effect on grain yield at harvest. With strong grain markets, and like many other farmers in the area, they have invested heavily in these crops so it highlights the importance of BYDV research, aphid monitoring and the development of decision support systems for farmers going forward, for maximising financial and environmental sustainability. It got two well timed fungicides for diseases control so far and has 3.2 clean leaves. Ear emergence is underway so the final fungicide or head spray isn’t far away. Pig slurry was applied to some of the standing crop of winter wheat in late March and Darren reckons it provided about 50 units of usable N per acre. There was a noticeable difference in the wheat that got pig slurry and the wheat that got chemical fertiliser only.

Other Crops

Darren is also happy with his winter oilseed rape. The variety is Aurelia. After a heavy grazing from pigeons in early spring, combined with indications of a strong market, inputs were pushed on to achieve growth targets & maximise yield potential. Flowering is more or less finished now and it’s looking well. Darren has two fields of Lynx beans. One strip till drilled in December following a thick catch crops predominantly oats, and the other field was sown conventionally in early March. They are half way through flowering and fairly clean looking at the moment. He will be following up with at least one more fungicide for chocolate spot control depending on how it goes. Darren is also growing some Planet spring malting barley for Dairygold for brewing. He is very happy with how it’s looking at the moment. It got it’s T1 around the 21st of May and he will follow up with the final spray at the ‘paintbrush’ stage in due course.

Over the next few month he is planning to experiment with burning rye straw in the biomass boiler. This is used to heat water for other businesses and buildings at Ballymaloe, such as the hotel. In terms of cropping plans for the autumn and going forward, the results from this experiment and the challenges associated with having a lot of different crops in the rotation will affect his planting decisions for this coming autumn and spring. Budgeting and improving labour efficiency will be high up on the agenda going forward.