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Tillage Update - 2nd July

This week's update has information and advice on machinery hygiene, crop records and an update on blight control on potatoes.

Listen to the latest The Tillage Edge Podcast covering machinery hygiene and how to do it before and during the harvesting season; watch a video on how to clean down a combine.

Machinery hygiene

Most farms are now counting down the days to harvest and are in the middle of preparing and servicing combines and balers. This is also an ideal time to give the machines a thorough cleaning before harvest begins, this will help to reduce the spread of many troublesome weeds like sterile brome, canary grass and blackgrass (pictured). This is especially important where contractors are employed, not only should they clean down their machinery regularly but farmers should also make them aware of any issues on their own farms. All tillage farmers will have to take a collective responsibility in preventing the spread of grass weeds, particularly blackgrass, which is a very big problem for many tillage farmers in the UK. Therefore, farmers and contractors need to collaborate as blackgrass has now been identified in most tillage counties in Ireland.

In this week’s the Tillage Ege Podcast Michael Hennessy talks to Dermot Forristal, Teagasc, Oak Park about machinery hygiene and how to do it before and during the harvesting season. This is a critical IPM tool in preventing the spread of blackgrass and other grass weeds around your farm or onto another farm. Listen to it here

In the below video, Dermot Forristal and Brendan Burke give a detailed demonstration showing how to clean down a combine.

Don’t forget at all times take the necessary health and safety precautions, with this in mind it is really a two person job.

A flyer has been developed which highlights the critical points in machinery hygiene - view it here

Crop records

With all agronomy decisions complete on most crops July is generally a good month to complete all farm records while the season is still fresh in the memory. While crop yields still have to be calculated the records detailing varieties, pesticide applications, fertiliser applications etc. should all be completed now. Together with detailed crop walking they should give a good insight into whether the decisions made during the season worked or not. While yield is ultimately the deciding factor issues like weed control, disease and pest control should still be recorded to help with the decisions that need to be made for the next season.


The annual battle with blight in potato crops is well underway at the moment. Recent rainfall in all parts of the country has increased the risk in all crops. Maincrop varieties are at the end of the rapid canopy phase of growth and entering the stable canopy for the next month. This is a critical period in the control of the disease as the canopy is at its biggest which poses two problems, firstly it creates the ideal conditions for the spread of blight once there is rainfall and secondly, penetration of the fungicides into the canopy can be difficult.









Consider the following when trying to maximise control of blight;

  • Keep water volumes up and use drift reducing nozzles for best effect.
  • Use angled nozzles with each second one, on the boom, facing backwards or forwards, this will give better coverage.
  • Keep intervals tight at seven days (exception Zorvec products 10 days).
  • Alternate the chemistry, don’t use the same products all the time.
  • Always have curative products containing cymoxanil on hand should blight get established in the crop.
  • Pay attention to areas where coverage might not be optimum e.g. around poles & corners.
  • Keep a look out for amateur growers in your area who may not be using blight control products.
  • Where you see blight take a sample and Teagasc will get it tested to see what strain of blight you have.