Tillage management: Spring barley checklist

Some tillage farmers have been able to take advantage of ploughing and sowing opportunities this week and it looks like more opportunities will come mid to late next week.

As tillage farmers try to make the most of a few possible dry days this weekend and warmer conditions by the end of next week, here’s a re-cap of a few factors to take into account when sowing spring barley.


Spring barley needs a fine, firm seedbed. Sowing conditions are crucial to producing a good crop. While it is hard to wait, in the current climate, be patient and sow into a dry and fine seedbed where possible.


Compound fertiliser should be incorporated into the seedbed for best results. It can be tilled in or some farmers may use a combined drill.

Studies by Teagasc have shown that using a combined drill on soils with a low phosphorus index can significantly increase yield.

Seed rate

Seed rate requires many different factors to be taken into consideration before sowing.

When calculating seed rate you will need the following three figures:
  • The target plant population (plants/m²);
  • The thousand grain weight (TGW) of the seed;
  • The estimated plant establishment percentage.

The establishment percentage should take seedbed and weather conditions, at the time of sowing, into account.

Teagasc recommends a target plant population of 325 plants/m² in late April. At a target establishment percentage of 90%, this would mean RGT Planet seed with a TGW of 51.9 would need to be sown at a seed rate of 187kg/ha.