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Tillage Update - 15th October

Ciaran Collins, Tillage Specialist, advises on increasing seed rates from now on for later sowing of winter cereals and sets out targets for establishment. He outlines pre-emergence weed control options where grass weeds are a problem in particular.

Seed rates

The dry weather this week has given growers a good chance to get winter wheat and barley in the ground but there is still a good portion of the planned area to be sown as wet conditions has caused delays in some parts of the country.

As we move into the second half of October seed rates need to be increased to compensate for later sowing and lower establishment rates. Establishment percentage will depend on field conditions but is rarely above 80% in late October.

It is important to check seed thousand grain weight (TGW) on each individual bag as some seed is very big this year and will require high seed rates to achieve target plant counts. Large seed size does not have any influence on establishment therefore high seed rates will be required when TGW is high.

Winter Barley yield is closely related to the number of grains/m² harvested, highlighting the importance of seeding rate and establishment in achieving high yields. Aim to establish 290 - 300 plants/m² as sowing moves into the second half of October with the aim of producing 1000-1200 heads/m² at harvest. A TGW of 59g would need 221kg/ha (14st/ac).

The target for winter wheat should be to establish 270 seeds/m² for the second half of October (TGW 50g 169kg/ha or 10.7st) and 320 – 330 seeds/m²for oats (TGW 43g 172kg/ha or 11st).

Pre-emergence weed control

Pre-emergence weed control should be considered where grass weeds are problematic especially in winter barley. Reliable control is difficult but pre-emergence applications of products containing Flufenacet, Pendimethalin, Prosulfocarb or Chlorotoluron will give increased control over post emergence options. Pre-emergence options include;

Firebird 0.3L/ha

Defy 2.0L/ha + DFF 0.1L/ha

Flight 4.0L/ha

Tower 2.0L/ha

Tillage Edge Podcast

In this week’s Tillage Edge podcast Michael Hennessy spoke to Dr. Daire O’Huallachain an agro-ecologist in Teagasc.  Daire told the Tillage Edge that biodiversity in a landscape includes all the plants, insects, animals, etc. within the landscape. The biodiversity within an area will be a reflection of the management of that area, e.g. biodiversity in a rural area will be different compared to an agriculture landscape.  Tillage crops add to the overall biodiversity in the agricultural landscape with particular species adapted to thrive on the tillage area and are dependent on it. 

Tillage is similar to other intensive farms with approximately 5-7% of the area dedicated to biodiversity habitats.  However despite the quantity Daire said the quality of these areas are often poor.  Daire suggests a change, spurred on by Farm to Fork policies, to a quantity and quality of habitats and rewarding farmers with results based payments will encourage farmers to manage habitats better and ultimately give a better outcome.