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Improving Precision and Profit on Tillage Farms

Ireland, as a result of its temperate climate, achieves the second highest yields per hectare of barley in the world, but yields are variable. Research at the Teagasc crops research centre in Oak Park is looking at ways of increasing yield further. This works suggests that future yield increases may lie in achieving high numbers of grains per ear, in conjunction with high shoot numbers per metre squared. Teagasc researcher Shane Kennedy said that increasing shoot numbers per metre squared has been identified as the most powerful tool for achieving high grain numbers.

At the Teagasc National Tillage conference in Kilkenny yesterday, Thursday, 30 January, the results of the Teagasc BETTER Farm Crops programme which looked to increase the profitability and sustainability of three commercial tillage farms from 2010 to 2012 were outlined. Teagasc tillage specialist, Michael Hennessy thanked the three families, the Crowleys in Cork, the O'Donoghues in Meath, and the Williamsons in Wexford. During the programme, 2,000 farmers attended events on the farms and 11 major research trials were on view.

Phase 2 of the Teagasc BETTER Farm crops programme is being prepared. Its aim will be to assess and demonstrate precision farming technology. The work will have three components:

  • Quantify and investigate within field variability
  • Evaluate appropriate crop management responses
  • Demonstrate precision agriculture technologies

Dermot Forristal