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Tillage Update - Cultivation systems and Stubble cultivations

Tillage Update - Cultivation systems and Stubble cultivations

Drilling for harvest 2023 is already underway with winter oilseed rape being drilled this week and many will have a pre-emergence herbicide applied to control weeds. Many of the crops are being sown with reduced cultivation systems. Shay Phelan Tillage Specialist discusses these systems here

Photo above; Low disturbance systems may help reduce costs

Reduced cultivation systems

Reduced cultivation systems have many benefits including reduced running costs, greater work output and reduced soil disturbance. However, reduced cultivation systems can also have issues in compacted soils, wet seasons and quite often grass weeds. That said, more and more farmers are looking at these types of systems to see if they could potentially suit their systems. With input costs such as fertiliser seed and sprays increasing, farmers need to look at ways of reducing their costs and their exposure, if grain prices start to slip in the coming years.

While the traditional plough based system is more expensive it is the probably the most reliable method of establishing crops for most circumstances when compared to the various low disturbance systems.

Traditionally after harvest many tillage farmers take the opportunity to change machinery before the new season kicks off and many demonstrations are held at this time of year to promote the various types of systems or cultivators.

Low disturbance systems offer an opportunity to reduce establishment costs, however farmers need to look at all the different aspects of reduced cultivation establishment systems, as mentioned above.

In the video below, Dermot Forristal, Research Officer, Oak Park discusses the merits of low disturbance establishment systems  

Stubble cultivations

While many growers are trying to come to terms with the new requirements for stubble cultivations including the recent changes to the regulations most farmers are getting on with the job in hand.

While the new regulations are concerned primarily with nutrient trapping and preventing losses to watercourses, stubble cultivations are also a very important Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tool in controlling pests.

For years farmers have being cultivating stubbles to control grass weeds such as scotch, bromes, ryegrass and more recently blackgrass. Getting grass weeds to chit and grow now is a very good IPM tool that allows farmers to reduce the problem in the following crops.

Stale seed beds are one control measure that all farmers can adopt no matter what type of establishment system they employ and it can reduce the risk of resistance build up which we are seeing from the continued use of the same chemistry year in year out.

Photo above; Stubble cultivations are a useful IPM tool for controlling pests

In the following video Jimmy Staples, Teagasc describes how to use stubble cultivations to control various different grass weeds 

Slugs. Another pest that can be controlled by stubble cultivations are slugs. Many slug species lay eggs at this time of year but exposing them to light and dry conditions as well as exposing them to predators can help to reduce the numbers that survive into the autumn and thereby reduce the risk to the following crop.  

Tillage Edge Podcast

Solar electricity from Photo Voltaic (PV) panels can be suitable for tillage farmers who are using a lot of energy such as potato or grain stores and on this week’s Tillage Edge podcast, Barry Caslin, a Bioenergy Specialist in Teagasc, discusses how PV can be useful to tillage farmers 

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.  Find your local Teagasc office here