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Tillage Update - 4th November 2021

Why is staying on top of paperwork more important this year compared to others? Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc, discusses the significance of completing records, creating budgets for 2022, and calculating returns for this year.

The recent wet weather gives farmers a good chance to retreat to the office and sort out the paperwork which was stacking up. Yes most of you are saying this is the last thing I wanted to do and would prefer to be doing anything else outside. However this is arguably one of the most critical and profitable jobs on the farm. Completing the records for each field will give a view of the profitability of the field and when this is put together gives the profitability of the crop and then the entire farm. 

Why is this work more important this year compared to other years? Despite the rising grain prices the costs of fertiliser have increased more rapidly. Crops which are normally profitable on the farm may not be in 2022 and other crops not grown in a while may be more profitable. Completing a 2022 budget for your crops based on last years costs is essential this year. There is some merit in using the Teagasc Costs and Returns budgets and reworking them but these could be out by up to €100 per acre compared to the real costs and returns on your farm. 

With fertiliser costs rising by over 200% in many cases there isn’t room to blanket apply fertilisers especially in low yielding fields. Chasing yield through the use of fertilisers may not be the way to go in 2022. Some fields which won't be planted until the Spring may not to turn a profit and you should question planting these fields. These fields more than likely are the fields with low lime status, low P and K status, have severe trace element deficiencies or will be planted late in the Spring. All these factors will lead to a lower average yield. Is there a cost effective solution for these fields? Can organic manures be sourced and applied to the fields? Applying lime in the next few months is a no brainer and most importantly selecting the correct crop for the field, which may be less dependant on nitrogen inputs, could be a more profitable decision, e.g. beans, oats, spring oilseed rape.

Contact your local advisor to go through these options but firstly spend some time calculating your returns for 2021. This should give you some pleasure considering the high yields and high prices which we experienced this year.

In this week's episode of The Tillage Edge podcast Dr Stephen Kildea talks about oilseed rape disease control and growth regulation. Stephen talks about the threat from Light Leaf Spot and the control measures. Stephen also mentions the effect some fungicides can gave on plant growth however warns about overuse of fungicides will lead to the resistance in the key diseases.  

Listen to the full podcast episode below:

If you liked this article you may also be interested in Assessing soil fertility to reduce Impacts of increasing fertiliser Costs
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