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Oak Park Crops and Spreaders Open Day

Oak Park Crops and Spreaders Open Day
One of the stands at Crops & Spreaders Open Day which took place in Teagasc Oak Park, Co. Carlow

Minimising the impact of farming on the environment is gaining increasing importance and reducing nutrient losses delivers benefits for both the farmer and the environment.

The Carbon footprint of the main tillage crops in Ireland is already low at between 0.3 - 0.6 kg CO2e per kg grain, but opportunities to reduce it further were highlighted at the Crops and Spreaders open day in Teagasc Oak Park, Carlow, today, Wednesday 26 June.

Head of the Teagasc Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme John Spink said: “Minimising the impact of farming on the environment is gaining increasing importance and reducing nutrient losses delivers benefits for both the farmer and the environment.  To achieve this you need to get the correct rate and timing of fertiliser in the right place - application is critical irrespective of fertiliser type.  Today’s event highlights the importance of machine settings and the opportunities using GPS to achieve more precise application.”

Tillage farmers were advised of the benefits of using manures to build soil health in tillage systems by improving soil organic matter.  The opportunities to make better use of crop rotations and the options for winter cover crops were also highlighted.

Loss of crop protection products is now a fact of life and emphasises the need for Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  On-going work on aphid control and adjustment of sowing dates for both winter and spring cereals was highlighted, as was the extensive research work carried out at Oak Park on Septoria, which is the most economically destructive disease of Irish winter wheat.  Varying levels of resistance to both azoles and SDHIs is now widespread.  As the efficacy of existing chemistry declines, growers are advised to manage Septoria by selecting varieties that have greater resistance, selecting the optimum sowing date, paying careful attention to the timing of application and choice of fungicide.

The importance of bees as pollinators of food crops such as peas, beans, apples, soft fruit was stressed at the open day and farmers were encouraged to allow hedgerows to flower and leave field margins to flower.

The Teagasc Forestry department spoke about the need to make ‘room for trees on your farm’ and highlighted how trees can contribute as part of a whole farm approach. The benefits include producing commercial timber, soaking up carbon, improving water quality, providing homes for wildlife, and producing a source of renewable energy.

The information booklet for the open day is available at https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2019/crops--spreaders-open-day-2019.php