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Bring your paperwork up to date

The level of field work which can be undertaken at this time of the year is minimal and will remain so for the next couple of months.

You may be thinking about the mountain of paperwork which is waiting for you in the office but you may also be considering starting about almost any other job which needs to be completed before tackling this paperwork.  Many people do not like the paperwork side of the business and see it as a necessary evil.  If the task is tackled with an open mind, the couple of days in the office can be the most profitable days of the year. 

Getting your crop records up to date for 2022 and the start of the 2023 cropping year should be a priority task.  All farmers are very good at keeping records in one form or another.  Many write up the records in the Grain Assurance Book, others write in a completed task in their day diary, while other may just update the recommendation sheet given to them by their advisor and store this in the spray shed.  Most farmers record keeping should improve so that records from individual fields or block of land can be compared to each other in terms of profitability and/or the management of the fields from year to year.  The only efficient way to do these comparisons is to digitally record all records.

Teagasc in partnership with Farmplan have embarked on a three year drive to encourage farmers to use digital recording on their farm.   Farmplan are one of the leading providers of crop recording software to UK farmers.   Teagasc clients can now get access to an easy to use crop recording program called Gatekeeper Cloud.  Gatekeeper Cloud is designed to save time and improve accuracy when recording activities, allowing farmers to set up records and enter data in just a few minutes. Being cloud-based, the software can be accessed via a web browser or specific app, reducing the cost of entry and reliance on specific hardware. Farmers can record data anywhere on the farm by the app via a mobile phone or tablet.  This allows more efficient data entry ensuring increased accuracy and the reports from the software are perfect for demonstrating compliance where needed. 

The cloud based system employs the highest security standards to store farmer data and as you would expect the farmer needs to give explicit permission for this data to be shared with anyone.  The partnership between Teagasc and Farmplan offers a large discount to Teagasc clients for the first three years of use.  This allows farmers to access software that is tailored to Irish farmers needs and can be assured the software is simple to use and a cost effective, low-risk entry point to get started in this space.  For more information Google “Teagasc Gatekeeper Cloud” or talk to your Teagasc advisor.

It’s a relief to get a few days dry together after the last six weeks of wet weather.  Surprisingly the earlier sown crops held up well but many of the later sown fields are looking the worst of ware with large areas with no crop due to water logging.  Unless these areas take up a significant amount of space it is probably not worth trying to replant in the spring.   

Waterlogging problems?

The chances are this waterlogging in your field probably isn’t a great surprise as these areas are wet spots at the best of times.  The last couple of years were kind with full crops growing strongly in these areas right up to harvest thereby putting any problem to the back of your mind to be rectified in the future. 

Every cloud has a silver lining and you can take advantage of the wet conditions. Mark out these wet areas where a drain may need to be cleaned up or a new drain installed. Installing effective drainage requires planning not only to ensure it is ultimately effective at draining excess water from the area but also that it is a cost effective instillation. There are many types of soils and subsoils that will influence the type of drainage to be installed therefore careful site assessment is necessary.  Before you call in the digger or order pipes, assess whether there is sub-surface compacted which might be the cause of the problem.  Compaction can be rectified easily by subsoiling during the summer when soils are dry. 

If you are looking for some information on the best practices for drainage, Teagasc have produced an excellent drainage manual which is packed full of information and can be found on the Teagasc website.  This manual goes through different types of soils, how to diagnose the causes of a problem and outlines the procedure around installing main drainage systems, groundwater drainage systems and shallow drainage systems.  To see the manual go to the Google.ie, search  “Teagasc Drainage Manual” and the resulting search will point to the first or second result.