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Tillage Update - Time spent walking your fields is well worth the effort

Almost all the major agronomic actions are now completed for the season. Michael Hennessy, Head of Teagasc Crops, sees this an an opportune time for farmers to learn most about the management of crops and how the agronomic practices have worked or not worked. This is done by walking the fields

This year, so far, has been reasonably kind on crops and yield expectations for the harvest are high.

Inspect your crop - up close

As there is a lull in workload at the moment, it is arguably the best time of the year when a farmer can learn most about the management of crops and how the agronomic practices have worked or not worked.   Every farmer should activate the step counter on the phone or get a pedometer and walk all fields (starting with winter crops)  from one side to another and ideally up and down every tramline.  This is not just because walking is good for you but in order to get a good idea of the crops condition it is essential to get close to the crop (and off the tractor).

Why should any farmer do this?

Firstly to spot and pull any weeds which are above the crop. These include grass weeds and flowering weeds also.  It is easy to spot the yellow flowers of marigolds or the red flowers of poppy at the moment but not too easy to spot grass weeds from a distance.  Both marigold and poppies have developed resistance to the ALS herbicides and if there are only a few then stopping them setting and returning seeds is critical to prevent a build up of these weeds in the field. 

If the populations are too numerous to hand rouge then make note of the area to;

  1. avoid with the combine at harvest to reduce the risk of further dispersal across the field (and come back and harvest later) and
  2. mark the area on a map to increased monitoring /treatment next year. 

The payback from spending a hour or two pulling problematic weeds is well worth it compared to controlling a large infestation of weeds which has spread across the entire field or farm.

Give sterile brome or blackgrass room to spread and these plants can produce from 2,000 to 5,000 seeds.  This type of seed return will lead to a huge headache in a short number of years.  See the Teagasc Crop Report for more information.  We also have more on this topic on the Tillage edge podcast airing this Friday, see here www.teagasc.ie/thetillageedge

Upcoming Farm Walks

This time of the year is also great to look at other farms and trial sites to learn about how other people manage their crops and to see new varieties.  There are a number of events coming up in the next few weeks, with a series of Signpost Farm walks looking at tillage farmers impact on the environment and how this effects can be minimised.   Keep up to date with Teagasc Tillage events at https://www.teagasc.ie/tillagemonth/ For more details see below

Tillage Signpost Farms & IPM Works Farm Walks

The farm walks will address sustainability challenges and solutions on tillage farms including:

  • Water quality and nitrates
  • Reducing pesti cides
  • Developing non-plough based systems on farm

Dates and venues are as follows:

Tuesday, 28 June | 11am

John Crowley, Tinnashrule, Ferns, Co. Wexford. Eircode: Y21 TX82

Wednesday, 29 June | 6pm

Darren Allen, Ballymaloe Farm, Shanagarry, Co. Cork. Eircode: P25 Y070

Thursday, 30 June | 11am

Will Stokes, Kilsheelan, Co. Tipperary. Eircode: E91 C9Y6

Potato Blight Warnings

For those with potatoes keep an eye on the Met Eireann app for blight warnings in your area.  The new warning include the latest research information from Teagasc which gives a more accurate blight forecast for your area and also a blight forecast for the next number of days. https://www.met.ie/forecasts/blight-forecast

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