Crop monitoring is an important part of Integrated Pest Management
Shay Phelan, Crops Specialist, outlines the importance of crop monitoring in controlling different pests, weeds or diseases in crops. Crop monitoring helps assess whether control is warranted or not. Shay also recommends using the Teagasc eProfit Monitor to complete the annual crop financial records
With the proposed loss of mancozeb for the control of potato blight being announced lately it again brings into focus that the number of pesticides that will be available into the future will continue to decline. Therefore we must make the best use of what tools we have at our disposal to control including chemical and non-chemical methods.
Crop monitoring plays an important role in controlling different pests, weeds or diseases in crops. This provides information of the current state of play in the crop and you then project forward in time to predict, what will likely be the next issue in the crop. Using sprays as a type of “insurance” is no longer acceptable in the current climate. This will no doubt involve some learning both by the farmer and the agronomist.
A good example of this is disease control in oilseed rape crops. While phoma and light leaf spot are common diseases in winter oilseed rape crops they don’t always justify treatment especially in the case of phoma. Levels of infection, variety choice and rotation all play a part in the decision making process as to whether or not control is warranted. Looking at crops in Oak Park recently, variety Aquila, which has a reasonably good disease package, sown into a field where there has been no rape in 8 years, we had to decide whether to apply a fungicide or not. The level of phoma infection was relatively low at below 10% infection however it was present, the decision was made not to apply a fungicide with a recent application of herbicides as we felt that the risk to the crop was not significant enough.
Likewise with BYDV control in cereals we know from experience that crops emerging in November are at less risk than those that emerge in October so before you commit to applying an insecticide which will also affect beneficial check the crop first for the presence of aphids.
In the video below Dr. Louise McNamara describes how Teagasc monitor aphids and also how you might monitor a crop at farm level.
With field drawing to a close over the coming weeks, use the time to complete your farm records. While many farmers see record keeping as a chore and a necessary evil for various different schemes, they can also be a very important source of information for improving the farm performance. Basic field records will provide information about crop rotation, fertilisers and chemical inputs as well as yield data in some cases.
However if these can be expanded upon to look at the overall fertility of the fields, the problem weeds and diseases, poorly performing areas etc. now they start to become much more useful when planning into the future. Remember records should not be just about recording what you did but they should also be used to plan what you are going to do. There are a variety of different recording systems that you can use to do these.
The final piece of the jigsaw then, is to complete financial records on the back of the field records. The Teagasc eProfit Monitor is a very useful tool in this regard which can give up to date financial performance of the different crops on an annual and multi-year basis.
Teagasc have also produced a machinery cost calculator which can used to calculate the cost of machinery on your own farm. This is a very useful tool to calculate the costs of the investment to date but more importantly it can be used to calculate the impact on farm profitability of future purchases. For further details contact your local Teagasc office or advisor.