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Development Plan discussed at Teagasc National Tillage Conference

The Tillage Sector Development Plan was the main topic of discussion at the Teagasc National Tillage Conference in Kilkenny today, Thursday, 31 January. Farmers had their first opportunity to debate and discuss the proposals for the tillage sector, prepared by an industry stakeholder group, since the plan was presented to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD and the Higher Level Implementation group for Food Harvest 2020.

The plan identifies considerable potential for expansion in cereals, oilseed rape and some potential in potatoes. If all the potential increases in the various crops were achieved, the area under crops could increase by 221,000 hectares, and the production of combinable crops could increase by 1.14 million tonnes. There would be a cumulative potential to increase the output of the tillage sector by €541 million and to create 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs. However farmers were warned that the final outcome will depend on external market movements, land availability, and competition from other enterprises.

Reacting to latest news on disease resistance to fungicides Steven Kildea plant pathologist in Teagasc, said: ”We have been warning the industry for some time that the SDHI group of fungicides, which are an important component of all the most recently released cereal fungicides, are at high risk of resistance development. This has recently been confirmed with the discovery of a Septoria isolate and 2 Net Blotch isolates on the continent with reduced sensitivity or partial resistance to the SDHI’s. None have been found in Ireland, but this emphasises the need for using them carefully to avoid resistance development. They should be used no more than twice in a season and should always be used with a robust rate of a triazoles and a multi site fungicide e.g. chlorothalonil or folpet.”

Teagasc researcher Dermot Forristal outlined to farmers how machinery costs in Ireland on ‘mainly tillage’ farms, as identified by the Teagasc National Farm Survey, are approximately 20% higher than those on UK farms and he warned that this competitive disadvantage needs to be addressed.

John Spink, Head of Crops Research in Teagasc announced that Teagasc tillage specialists and advisers will be providing a new service to farmers. Regular updates on the growth stages of wheat crops will be posted on the Teagasc website. Tillage specialist Tim O'Donovan said: ”These regular growth stage updates and aphid counts will help growers to improve the effectiveness of the plant protection strategies employed, through improved timing of spraying operations.”

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