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Teagasc Tillage Crops Forum

This year’s Teagasc Crops Forum which took place in the Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge, County Kildare, today, Wednesday, 9 September, focused on the technical challenges facing tillage farmers for the coming year.

John Bergin from R&H Hall gave an insight into what to expect over the coming six to nine months with an eye to the medium term prospects for grain price. “Large harvests, both in Ireland and across the globe, will increase stock levels and continue to put pressure on prices,” according to John Bergin. He urged growers to plan grain sales through the year using forward selling. “Planned sales of grain gradually through the year will buffer growers from getting caught at the low point in the market,” he added.

Dr. Josephine Brennan, Head of Cereal Variety Evaluation at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine gave an update on the latest information from the National Cereal Variety Trials. She said; “The trials produced very good information this year in terms of yield, agronomic and quality characteristics of the different varieties. In general the crops filled well and overall both yield and grain quality is up on last year.”

Patrick Stephenson, a UK agronomists and chairman of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants, was the keynote speaker at the forum. He outlined some of the difficulties faced by UK farmers. “Most UK arable farmers are under significant pressure following the fall in farm gate prices of grain. Research work, like the STAR trial and other trials, are helping to provide UK farmers with a financially costed view of rotations and associated problems” he said. Grass weeds continue to be a major problem and a cost on UK farms and Patrick Stephenson outlined measures that can be taken to minimise build up and reduce large grass weed populations on farm.

Dr. Michael Gaffney, Entomologist, Teagasc updated the forum on aphid populations and the level of knockdown resistance, also called kdr, to certain insecticides. He said, “We have confirmed evidence of the kdr resistance gene being present in Irish grain aphid populations and we are now trying to establish the prevalence of the gene throughout the country, and also any practical effect this may be having on the ability of pyrethroids to effectively control grain aphid populations.”

Eamonn Lynch, Teagasc advisor, gave practical advice to growers to combat the problem. He said: “Sowing early this autumn puts crops at greater risk and the advice is to use an insecticide seed dressing in these situations”.

The panel of industry experts, moderated by Andy Doyle, Irish Farmers Journal, discussed questions on the area of grass weed control and how to minimise its spread.