Considerable improvement in soil conditions…field work begins again in some parts

Soil conditions showed signs of improvement towards the end of December in some parts of the country and while everyone wasn’t running out to the fields, some farmers were able to pull beet, while others got the plough out for the new year.

Rain on Thursday provided enough moisture to call a halt to activity in many areas, but tillage farmers will be hoping a dry spell will continue in order to make a start on their job list, following a wet autumn and winter so far.

Many farmers have taken out the hedgecutters. Glyphosate may need to be applied to green covers, while making a dent in ploughing will help to lighten the load later on.

Intentions of planting winter wheat may still come to pass – if conditions hold up and improve. The focus will turn to spring crops.

Soil moisture deficits

As of Thursday, January 2, soil moisture deficits (SMD) on well-drained soils ranged from 0 to 4. Soils on the border of counties Dublin and Kildare were the driest at a reading of 4.

Moderately drained soils had ranged between 0 and 5 on Wednesday, January 1. However, rain on Thursday moved that range to between -8 and 4.

The SMD is the amount of rain needed to bring the soil back to field capacity. An SMD of -10 means that the soil is at saturation point.

Poorly drained soils were a much different story with readings of between -2 and -10. The wettest of these soils were recorded in the west and south east of the country. Many of these soils were at saturation point (-10).

While below average rainfall levels fell in some parts of the country in December, the rain from previous months had caused the damage and it was only in the late part of December that soil conditions showed any significant improvement.