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Tillage Update 5th March 2021

Ground has dried out quickly over the past week. However areas which had water lying will take another 4-5 days before they can be travelled. All tillage farmers are now in the process of getting starter fertiliser applied and primary cultivations completed as Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops details

Applying starter fertiliser to winter crops

Soil temperatures are a key factor in crop growth.  Growth usually does not start to any significant degree until soils reach 6oC and stronger growth only starts above 10oC.  At the moment Cork and Dublin have soil temperatures of a little less than 6oC with Oak Park at 6.4oC.  So these temperatures will allow some growth but not really strong growth.  The rate of growth gives an indication of the demand for nutrients whether nitrogen, phosphate or potash.  This knowledge directs us as to the type of nitrogen loading which should be applied to crops at the moment and we should also taking in to account the changes of losing nitrogen from heavy rain (leaching and run off) in the coming weeks.  It’s best to keep nitrogen applications under 40kg/ha for the moment and come back in a couple of weeks to top up to the desired amount. The recent Crop Agronomy webinar covered nitrogen applications to winter crops really well and the recent Malting Barley Webinar,  held in late February, has a lot of information around using liquid nitrogen to crops.  This webinar gives the advantages and disadvantages of using liquid nitrogen and how to get the best from the system.

Planning for spring crops

Surprisingly there are a number of farmers able to plant crops this week.  Its amazing how dry some ground is.  However there are other farms where the farmer couldn’t contemplate ploughing for another couple of weeks as the ground needs to dry out.  The first crop to be planted will be spring beans, then malting barley and spring wheat , followed by spring oats, then spring barley. 

Even though spring beans have a very large seed it is vulnerable to damage if planted in wet conditions.  Not as much because it is soil will be cloddy, more that the soil can be smeared around the seed and also there is a higher potential of compaction from machinery planting the crop.  Bean yield can be depressed by up to 40% in compacted soils.  Planting the correct amount of seeds per hectare is very important and is dictated by the seed weight.  In the Teagasc Crop Agronomy webinar this week John Pettit brings us through the spring bean planting rates and highlights the importance of calculating the rates accurately.

Spring barley planning should begin well before a tractor goes into the field and certainly before the seed is planted.  Understanding the components of yield for spring barley is extremely important as this dictates seeding rate and management through the crops growth.  Shane Kennedy brought us through the key components in the recent agronomy webinar.

Finally if you want to listen back the excellent questions and answers section from this webinar these are compiled in the latest episode of the Tillage Edge podcast.

For more inofrmation check out Teagasc Tillage Month here