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The Tillage Incentive Scheme – A new Drive for native Grain

The Tillage Incentive Scheme – A new Drive for native Grain

John Galvin, Drystock and Tillage Advisor, Teagasc Athenry, discusses the targeted intervention support package for farmers including a Multi-Species Sward Measure, Increased funding for Protein Crops and the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS). He then focuses on sowing spring Barley following grass

On Thursday 24th of February, Russia invaded it’s near neighbour Ukraine. The full fallout from this ongoing war has yet to be fully realised and has sent the commodity markets into a state of flux.

The global cereal markets especially the world wheat market has seen a London wheat futures price increase of 36% from a pre-invasion price of £230/t to a price of £310/t at the time of writing.

Ukraine, aptly known as the ‘breadbasket of Europe’ is the third largest exporter of wheat in the world (12% of global market) whilst Russia is the largest exporter accounting for 17% of the global export market. The two together export up to 60 million tonnes of Wheat which accounts for 30% of the world wheat supplies. Currently between two thirds and three quarters of the 2021/22 supplies have been exported, but if internal/external sanctions are placed on further exports, demand and prices will increase for wheat in other parts of the world. Both of them are key suppliers of corn, barley and sunflower seed oil accounting for 70-80% of sunflower seed exports.

The Irish Response

There has been a Rapid Response Team established within the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) and also a multi stakeholder National Fodder and Food Security Committee assembled to examine how best to advise the sector. Following on from this, a targeted intervention support package for the tillage sector and a multi species sward initiative worth over €12 million has been launched.

The key elements to this support package are as follows;

  • Multi-Species Sward Measure including support for Red Clover swards to reduce dependence on nitrogen fertiliser whilst maintaining production levels. 
    Payment rate of €50 per 12kg bag of multi-species sward seed. An online application must be submitted by 4th of April 2022 along with lands declared as multi-species on applicant’s 2022 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application.
  • Increased funding for Protein Crops to encourage increased production of protein crops.
    A proposed payment of €300/ha for peas, beans, lupins and €150/ha for combi-crops (cereal/protein mix). Relevant crops must be declared on applicant’s 2022 BPS application.
  • The Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) is to incentivise farmers to grow additional tillage crops. Crops eligible for the scheme include barley, wheat, oats, maize, oil seed rape, beet and potatoes. In order for crops to be eligible the land must not have been in tillage production in 2021 and there must be an increase in cropping area on the applicants BPS 2022.
    A payment of €400/ha will be paid with a total budget of €10 million. Applicants must declare the crops on their 2022 BPS and DAFM will track the areas at parcel level and compare BPS 2021 lands declared with BPS 2022. This is a one year scheme/package at the moment and eligible crops can be combined or harvested as whole crop.

Spring Barley following Grass/Ley Ground

As the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) has by far the largest budget (€10 million) and spring barley is the most popular crop and has by far the largest seed availability this the crop I will focus on.

The clock is really ticking on getting spring barley sown as crops sown after mid-April tend not to reach full yield potential and harvesting date is pushed too late.

In order to achieve a good seed bed for establishment and minimise grass weeds, the pasture crop currently growing needs to be burned off using maximum rates of a suitable glyphosate product. Good ploughing/tilling is essential, burying the thrash from grassland and establishing a good fine and firm seedbed. Ideally soil analysis should be carried out after ploughing ideally. A soil pH of 6.5 and adequate levels of phosphorous and potassium are vital for spring barley establishment and development. If the field is questionable regarding fertility oats would be a safer option as it is much more forgiving than barley and will perform reasonably well in most fields.

Lime should be applied after ploughing and tilled in. Fertiliser: Approximately 3-3.5 bags of 10-10-20 needs to be applied along with the seed ideally to get the crop off to a good start. A high seeding rate of 11-12st/ac of seed, followed by a good rolling to minimise pest’s attack that are very prevalent in crops following permanent pasture. These pests include slugs, leatherjackets and wireworms.

Following sowing, early nitrogen at tillering is important to drive early growth to get the crop away from pests. The rates for nitrogen will vary depending on previous cropping i.e. grazing only, grazing + silage, silage only. Fields that have been consistently cut for silage only would have a recommended rate of 100kg’s of nitrogen/ha (80units/acre).

Integrating spring barley into a grassland farm can be useful way of carrying out a rotational reseeding programme and no doubt this will be attractive to many farmers.

With fertiliser costs at an all-time high and availability a major issue across the country and increasing contractor costs as a result of rising fuel costs, it is very important for any farmer considering this measure to work out their costs and potential returns.

For more on this topic see the Teagasc Tillage Update 31st March 2022 and check out the latest  The Tillage Edge Podcast

Keep up to date with Technical Advice for Farmers to Improve Food and Feed Security at Food and Feed Security

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 Teagasc advisors also regularly provide articles of interest. Find your local Teagasc office here