Courtesy of its July Newsletter, Teagasc has provided an update on the criteria that must be met to ensure compliance with the Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM).

For those farmers who applied for the scheme, all crops under consideration must be harvested, the straw must be chopped, spread evenly, and incorporated into the soil as soon as possible after harvest.

In terms of incorporation, the following methods are deemed acceptable: Discing; the use of tined cultivators that can successfully incorporate the quantity of straw present; the use of straw rakes as required in strip till / no till situations.

Ploughing of straw without prior to incorporation with soil is not permitted under the SIM.

Optimal straw incorporation

According to Teagacs, good incorporation is essential to reduce pest problems, particularly slugs, and to avoid poor crop establishment.

Growers should ensure that straw is chopped and spread evenly across the combine header width. Incorporation needs to be shallow, but deep enough to get a good mix with soil.

Growers are urged to avoid deep cultivation, as this will inhibit the germination of grass weeds and volunteer cereals.

Such an approach will also make soil difficult to work in the autumn after heavy rain.

Rolling is not a requirement of the scheme. However, it would conserve moisture and help germination of grass weeds.

Grass weeds

Teagasc is also highlighting the opportunity that tillage farmers will have over the coming weeks to get on top of grass weed burdens.

Blackgrass is an increasing problem on Irish farms. The problem normally starts with a very small number of plants but multiplies very quickly.

One blackgrass plant per square metre can return six million seeds per hectare so it is vital to walk crops prior to harvest.

The advisory body has said that July is the perfect month to assess the level of grass weeds on tillage farm and to put an integrated pest management (IPM) control plan in place.

Step one is to identify the weeds present and record their location in the field.

Identification is easier when grass weeds are headed out, but if growers are not sure, they should contact Teagasc or any agronomist for help.

Hand rogueing can be carried out if the weed population is low. Alternatively it may be possible to desiccate larger areas if seeds have not already been set in the head.

If growers suspect that they have a resistance issue, they should contact their local advisor to arrange testing.