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Tillage Update - Fire risks at harvest & Winter Barley

Shay Phelan, Teagasc Tillage Specialist cautions on the increased risk of fires on tillage farms right now. He advises farmers to put safety measures in place and lists 10 tips farmers should follow. Shay also reflects on the Winter barley harvest, advising growers to analyse how the crop performed

The recent dry weather has significantly increased the risk of fires on all tillage farms. All fields including grass fields dead or decaying material in them or around hedges all this material has the potential to burn if the conditions are right. We have seen in recent days that there have been many wild fires both here in Ireland and also in the UK. All farmers should put in place measures to prevent of extinguish fires on their farms. Here are 10 tips farmers should follow in the current circumstances;

    1. Make sure all combines, balers and even tractors have fire extinguishers that are tested and working.
    2. Have a water tanker or bowser on hand and full of water during the harvest. Don’t go looking to fill them when the fire starts.
    3. If there is a spare tractor on the farm hitch it up to a cultivator in case a fire starts this can then be used to create a fire break as quickly as possible.
    4. Clean down combines, tractors and balers regularly this will stop them from over heating and potentially going on fire.
    5. Make sure all bearings are greased as per the manufacturers guidelines again this will stop them from overheating and going on fire.
    6. Slow down when cultivating especially where straw was chopped, we have all heard of stories where some steel part of a machine flicked of a stone and cause a spark resulting in a fire.
    7. Remove straw from fields as quickly this will reduce the risk of people playing on bales and possibly causing fires.
    8. Harvest crops near known fire risk areas as soon as they are ripe don’t leave them any longer than they need to be there.
    9. Cigarette smoking in fields should be banned, cigarette butts and matches can easily start a fire.
    10. Make sure you have the number of the local fire brigade on your phone in case the worst happens

Winter barley 

With the winter barley harvest now almost wrapped up, growers should sit down and record all the details from the harvest. While some of the later harvested crops yielded well many of the earlier harvested crop performed very poorly. Now is the time when everything is fresh in the memory to sit down and analyse the performance of the crop. Where crops were poor try to figure out why this happened from listening to reports from around the country there may be many reasons including fertiliser applications or rates, rotation, sowing dates, soil compaction, disease control, BYDV, various crop stresses or lack of moisture. Try to figure what you think was relevant in your situation. It may even be worth sitting and comparing notes with a trusted neighbour or friend.

With input costs likely to increase for the 2023 crop making sure crops perform to their potential will be vitally important.

The Tillage Edge Podcast

The harvest so far has been a mixed affair with relatively poor winter barley yields across the country.   

On this week’s Tillage Edge podcast, John Pettit and Conor Kavanagh, both Teagasc tillage advisors, join Michael Hennessy to discuss the results so far from the south east and the south of the country.

For more episodes and information from the Tillage Edge podcast go to: www.teagasc.ie/thetillageedge

If you missed last week's informative Tillage update you can get it at Tillage Update - Harvest management

Keep up to date with Teagasc Tillage events at https://www.teagasc.ie/tillagemonth/

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