Video: Winter barley harvest wraps up in north Co. Dublin

Just 20km north of the capital, Derek Keeling and his father Derek senior farm 350ha in Oldtown, Co. Dublin.

Derek began farming full-time in 2000, after completing a business degree and obtaining the Green Cert. However, he has always been involved in the family farm and worked with his father from a young age.

Speaking to AgriLand yesterday, July 25, Derek said they were just finishing up harvesting the last of the winter barley. The father-and-son team added that they were happy with how the harvest went and the recent spell of good weather.

Winter barley yields are coming in at 3.9-4.3t/ac, with the Cassia variety performing particularly well.

Derek seemed happy enough with grain quality. Bushel weights came in at 66-70 and moisture was mostly low he said, with a range of 15-20% recorded.

“It’s the same as last year; down on the year before that [2015], but that was an exceptional year,” he said.

winter barley keeling

The Keelings practise the ‘three-crop rule’. Approximately 75% of their land is in winter wheat and 20% is winter barley. The remaining acreage grows spring wheat. In addition, about a quarter of the land farmed by Derek and his father is rented.


Derek also runs a beef enterprise. Land unsuitable for tillage was reseeded and turned to grass. Derek buys in stock at around 400kg and carries them to finish.

winter barley keeling

Grain is dried on-farm and then sold to local merchants. The Keelings only bale enough straw for themselves for the year and then sell the rest on the flat.

With regards to mainline machinery, the Keelings operate a New Holland CX8070 Elevation combine and three tractors: a New Holland T7040; a New Holland TS135A; and a John Deere 6930.

winter barley keeling

Discussing the difficult past few years for Irish tillage farmers, Derek said: “You have to keep an eye on input costs to make the business work; the price of new machinery is extortionate.

“You really have to strive to get maximum yields now. Timing is everything,” he said.