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Tillage Update - 12th November

The year has all but closed to new planting, with the heavy rain over the past week and more due this weekend. Planting is all but complete with reports of similar levels to 2019. Reviewing this year’s crops performance has never been as important is the message from Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops

The weather over last year and in 2018 have been unusual but as many will point out there is no two years the same.  Looking to the predictions from climatologists they tell us the weather we experience will be change quite a bit over the coming decades.  Perhaps some of these changes are with us quicker than we think, considering the past 5-6 years.  With all that being said, getting a handle on farm or rather enterprise (but also field) performance is important to ensuring the correct choice of crops is on your farm.  Recording the activities from an agronomic timing or financial input is important to allow comparisons to the past and improve on the decisions next year. As the saying goes “If you don’t measure it you can’t manage it”. 

Teagasc eCrops Programme

There are many excellent field recording programmes which can help you record the field details.  Some you have to paid for others give a very limited functionality and are free.  Teagasc have a small excel based program which can also help most farmers with field recording.  The Teagasc e-crops is simple to use and free.  You can find it here https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/crops/reports--publications/crops-margins--ecrops/

The program has good set of instructions to get you started.  It allows all field records (seed, fertiliser, etc.) to be entered and costed.  The program is quite simple and allows a print off of each field and also helps with nitrates records.  There are more comprehensive programs out there which will allow you to do more with the data and if that’s what you are after this program is not for you. 

For those who want to use the eCrops to fill in the figures as you go from the mobile phone, the program can be uploaded to Google Drive (a gmail account is necessary) and it is then saved in Google Sheets online.  Once this is done filling in the figures can be easily done from the seat of a tractor. 

Disease control in winter oilseed rape

Oilseed rape crops have grown well over the past six weeks.  There is are big differences between crops sown in August, first week in September and the second week in September.  This is worth noting as the later sown crops are still relatively small and are more vulnerable to pigeon attack in mid-winter.  These later sown crops are at the same risk from foliar disease (Phoma and Light Leaf Spot) and phoma can be more damaging to smaller plants due to the fungus growth habit.   

These foliar diseases can be the cause of significant yield losses in winter oilseed rape crops. In this video Dr. Steven Kildea discusses how to identify and control the two main diseases Phoma Leaf Spot and Light Leaf Spot. Steven discusses an IPM approach involving monitoring the crop, establishing the levels of disease present, disease thresholds for treatment and finally fungicide options.

Managing hedgerows

Managing hedgerows is important to help habitats thrive.  All too often hedgerows on tillage farms are over managed in an attempt to make them look neat and tidy.  Nature doesn’t do neat and tidy when its at its magnificent best.  In the latest Tillage Edge podcast Catherine Keena, Environmental Specialist in Teagasc, talks about hedge row management and how tillage farmers can help these habitats to flourish. 

Listen to the podcast here  

and you can listen to all past podcast episodes here teagasc.ie/thetillageedge