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Spring Barley Crop: Ballyhaise Agricultural College 2022

The last time Ballyhaise Agricultural College successfully produced a cereal crop was in conjunction with Department of Agriculture trials back in 1998. This twenty four year exodus was finally ended on August 12th 2022. John Mc Elvaney, Machinery Teacher at Ballyhaise Agricultural College has more

As the old Irish proverb goes : “The thing that is seldom is wonderful…

Barley growing returns to Ballyhaise

Plans were put in place to sow nineteen acres of spring barley with Gangway the variety of choice in early March 2022. This was in direct response at the time to foreseen difficulties relating to the export of ca. 20,000,000 tonnes of grain from Ukraine and the threat that our supply here in Ireland would simply not meet demand. From a training perspective our students appreciated our ambition to implement recently announced government schemes available to farmers such as the Tillage Incentive Scheme.

Site selection for cereal growing

The site chosen was in two parts – Colonel’s hill (from war times) and the aptly named trials field (site of Dept. of Agriculture cereal crop trials in the 1990’s). These fourteen acre and five acre plots respectively were meticulously selected as they were south-east facing, optimum pH and with good access from the road.

Work started on March 16th with both fields sprayed off with Roundup Flex at 11 litres / ha. The cultivation method of choice was a plough based system making best use of our Overum plough followed by one run of the Amazone Catros disc cultivator. In ensuring that we were self-sufficient in the growing of this crop we made the decision to travel south to acquire a second-hand Kuhn box drill that mounted directly to our Kuhn HR3004 power harrow. The seed was subsequently sown at a rate of 175 kg/ha on March 28th.

Ballyhaise fertiliser and spray programme for Spring Barley

From an agronomy and crop husbandry perspective we received excellent support from our local Teagasc crops advisors. A virtually weed and disease free crop was testament to their guidance on herbicide and fungicide selection and timing. The fertiliser and spray programme implemented can be viewed in the table below:

Table 1: Ballyhaise fertiliser and spray programme


Excellent weather conditions not only at sowing but throughout the establishment of the crop afforded the opportunity for a combine harvester to make an infrequent (and perilous) journey across the bridge at Ballyhaise on August 12th 2022. The New Holland TC56 combine made light work of the crop loading directly from its hopper to the artic lorries parked at the headland. The sight of not only a combine working the fields of Cavan but also lorries travelling on Ballyhaise soil (with a 30 tonne payload) was a spectacle enjoyed by many local visitors to the field on the day.


Ballyhaise Barley Crop - yield and market

On final analysis, our barley crop yielded 7.9 tonnes per hectare with a moisture content of 15.3% and hectolitre weight of 68.5 kg/hl. While the Navi-Star ship carrying grain from Odesa in the Ukraine to Foynes Port in Limerick sailed for two weeks, our grain made the short journey to the P&V feed mill near Longford. This barley will hopefully one day form make the return journey to Ballyhaise in the form of animal feed for our Dairy herd. A yield of 206 round bales of straw further enhances our supply of feed and bedding for the winter months ahead.

The twenty four year wait to grow a crop of this stature and quality has been truly worthwhile. This feat however would not have been possible without the input of our tillage advisors, local contractors and all the staff at Ballyhaise College.

A big thank you to all involved while we look forward with renewed optimism to harvest 2023…

Find out more about Ballyhaise College 

Find out more information and advice from the Teagasc Crops team here.   The Teagasc Crops Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to tillage farmers every Thursday on Teagasc Daily.  If you have further queries you can talk to your Teagasc tillage advisor. Find your local Teagasc office here