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Tillage Update - 15th July 2021

Harvest time is upon us and it is usually the busiest time on any tillage farm. Shay Phelan, Crops Specialist has some simple tips that can make the job in hand a bit more efficient. Shay also gives an update on potatoes as most crops are at stable canopy stage with plants meeting in the drills.

Harvest management

Harvest time is upon us and it is usually the busiest time on any tillage farm with the constant battle with weather to get crops cut and baled in time, however a few simple tips can make the job in hand a bit more efficient and can also have long term benefits on soil structure.

In wet seasons soils can be severely damaged by large machinery especially grain trailers, telehandlers, bale trailers etc. This damage can have significant impacts on the following crops so a simple traffic plan for all drivers, especially casual labour, is essential. Consider the following points to reduce the risk of damage on soils;

  • Tractors and grain trailers should be parked on tramlines and facing towards the gate. Avoid turning in the field when the trailer is full.
  • All traffic should be confined to tramlines as much as possible.
  • Check tyre pressures on all machines to see if they at the optimum pressure for field conditions.
  • Only use chaser bins or trailers with low ground pressure tyres when side filling from the combine.
  • Collect straw bales where possible with bale chasers. Avoid stacking bales in rows for easy loading onto trailers, loaders will have driven over the same area at least 4 times.
  • Avoid using industrial loaders with road tyres when loading straw
  • In broken weather consider chopping straw on end headlands to make it easier to bale the rest of the field. A lot of this straw gets trampled and it takes it longer to dry out. It facilitates easier combining and the straw will have nutritional and structural benefits to the soil.
  • Straw Trucks should only enter the field if soil conditions are good and they should remain on tramlines.
  • Grain trucks should never enter the field as the tyres are not suitable for field conditions


Most crops are at stable canopy stage with the majority of plants meeting in the drills. Blight reports are few and far between but the humid weather continues to present a risk especially where there's thundery showers. Growers should continue to spray at their regular intervals with products like Infinito, Revus, Zorvec etc. And always have some curative chemistry like Option or Cymbal on hand in case some curative activity is necessary.

This is typically the time when amateur growers tend to relax their guard when it comes to blight control in their own crops, so be aware of any potential source of blight in your area.

The Tillage Edge Podcast

On this week’s episode of The Tillage Edge podcast, Shay Phelan catches up with Tim Bergin who is a Dublin farmer now farming near Slupsk in North West Poland. Tim spoke to the Tillage Edge earlier in the year but Shay got an update on the season so far on his farm and the prospects for the harvest not only in Poland but all across Europe. 

Tim also spoke about the impact of drought on his potato crop and the impact on yields and supply. Like in Ireland, Covid 19 and Brexit are having an effect in Poland and Tim describes the issues that have affected his business but also the potential opportunities that may arise as a consequence.

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