How to make the most of your soil and crops

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page -

depth and fol­lowed by a fur­ther rolling af­ter sowing in­sures a good seed to soil con­tact and even ger­mi­na­tion and emer­gence.

The break­down of the sod can im­pact on the emerg­ing crop in a num­ber of ways. Ni­tro­gen is used by the or­gan­isms break­ing down the sod and is tem­po­rar­ily un­avail­able to the crop. It is vi­tal that seedbed ni­tro­gen is ap­plied in suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties to al­low for this po­ten­tial ini­tial lock up. The once-tra­di­tional prac­tice of placed fer­tiliser in com­bine drills for spring ce­re­als is hard to beat.

The im­pact of de­cay­ing sod on soil pH is also a con­sid­er­a­tion, so be pre­pared to ap­ply the gran­u­lated lime prod­ucts at the first sign of low pH symp­toms in patches of spindly plants, par­tic­u­larly in spring bar­ley. Fi­nally watch for leather­jacket ac­tiv­ity where plants are cut off just be­low ground level and yel­low leaves are spot­ted ly­ing on the ground.

I ob­served that the re­moval of hedgerows was reg­u­larly a fea­ture of fields ploughed out of grass. Hedges are a land­scape fea­ture and are pro­tected un­der the re­quire­ments of Good Agri­cul­tural and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­di­tions (GAEC) and should not be re­moved. SFP penal­ties will be im­posed on in­spec­tion.

Win­ter crop progress is good with win­ter wheat gen­er­ally at growth stage 30-31 and win­ter bar­ley at 31-32+ across the crops checked last week. Sur­viv­ing oat crops vary from 25-31 with a per­cent­age of plants hang­ing on by the root tips.

The dry weather has re­duced the spread of sep­to­ria on the wheat, but ac­tive le­sions are still ev­i­dent on the lower leaves. Rhyn­chospo­rium on the bar­ley is also very ev­i­dent, with the po­ten­tial for rapid in­fec­tion with good tem­per­a­tures as plant stands and leaf canopies are very dense.

The growth reg­u­la­tor and ‘clean-up’ her­bi­cide ap­pli­ca­tions are pro­gress­ing on the wheats, with cleavers, wild oat and ster­ile brome the main tar­gets.

It is in­ter­est­ing to see emerg­ing weeds such as fat hen, red­shank, bindweed and vol­un­teer rape ap­pear­ing from un­der weath­ered clods on the rougher win­ter seedbeds which had been sprayed in the au­tumn. The disease strat­egy starts now and I gen­er­ally try to hold back with the T1 un­til GS 32/ 33, which will oc­cur roughly mid to end of April, and hope­fully op­er­ate a four-week in­ter­val end­ing around June 20 or later.

The ques­tion now is the in­clu­sion of a T0 fungi­cide to carry the crop un­til the heavy­weight T1 ap­pli­ca­tion. Gen­er­ally, I would as­sess the risk by va­ri­ety, ro­ta­tion, growth stage, fer­tiliser ap­pli­ca­tion, crop po­ten­tial, disease lev­els and the planned T1 fungi­cide.

A cost-ef­fec­tive T0 ap­pli­ca­tion would be based around Chlorothalonil with or with­out a Tri­a­zole, de­pend­ing on the an­swers to the above ques­tions.

Win­ter bar­ley man­age­ment is cen­tred around some wild oat con­trol, growth reg­u­la­tion and pri­mar­ily disease con­trol.

Rhyn­chospo­rium will take off and will co­in­cide with new leaf growth so it is es­sen­tial to have ro­bust rates of fungi­cide in the plant to pro­tect the new growth.

Oilseed rape is just be­gin­ning to flower, but crops vary from 20 to 60cm as a re­sult of the pi­geon on­slaught.

Crops flower de­spite the plant and canopy size and growth stage is de­ter­mined by tem­per­a­ture and light, as in all crops.

There is very lit­tle disease ev­i­dent, with oc­ca­sional leaf spot, and a Tri­a­zole fungi­cide ap­pli­ca­tion should fit the bill.

A great start to the sea­son let's hope it con­tin­ues.

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