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Tillage Newsletter - September 2021

This month's Tillage Newsletter includes information on: National Crops Forum; Autumn planting; Time for soil sampling; Cereal crop P and K requirements; Soil structure assessment; and Health & Safety - Food for thought.

In this month's edition: 

  • National Crops Forum
    The annual National Crops Forum provides an ideal opportunity for farmers to assess the season just gone and also look forward to options for next season. This year due to Covid-19 restrictions, the National Crops Forum will be held over two mornings as a virtual event on Zoom, at 11.30am each day. Register at www.teagasc.ie/cropsforum
  • Autumn planting
    It is always tempting to avail of good weather in September to plant winter cereals, but early planting carries risks. Planting winter wheat and barley early (mid to late September – later further south) generally ensures good seedbeds and favourable temperatures during germination and leads to higher establishment rates. However, there is an increased threat from take-all, foliar diseases, lodging, grass weeds and aphids (barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV)).
  • Time for soil sampling
    Now is the ideal time to identify fields on the farm that require fresh soil samples. Ensure soil samples are taken correctly and take a soil sample every 4-5ha. This will provide the basis for lime, phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) applications for the next four to five years. Soil test results will provide recommended rates of lime to correct soil pH to the optimum pH 6.5 for a cereal crop rotation.
  • Cereal crop P and K requirements
    Winter cereals have a demand for P and K, which ensures that crops are well established in terms of rooting and tiller development entering the winter period. Check soil test results for Index 3. These soils will have a good supply P and K for crop establishment; therefore, omit P and K applications until springtime.
  • Soil structure assessment
    Now is a good time to take out the spade and assess soil structure. This involves digging a number of shallow soil pits (50cm deep) around the field. Take out the top 25cm (topsoil) and assess the shape, size, strength, colour and friability of the soil particles. Examine rooting activity and earthworm numbers in this top zone. This will help classify it as having good, medium or poor soil quality.
  • Health & Safety - Food for thought
    The Teagasc strategy applies the total worker health model to support farmers with both health and wellbeing and health and safety. Excess body weight is associated with increased injury, cardiovascular disease, cancers, Covid-19 disease severity, musculoskeletal disorders and depression.