The medium to long-term prospects for tillage farmers in Ireland are good, according the latest update from Teagasc.

Addressing 1,000 tillage farmers attending a Teagasc Crops Open Day this afternoon, head of Teagasc crops research in Oak Park, Carlow, John Spink, said growers need to continuously strive to exploit the high-yield potential in Ireland by getting their technology right, using the most appropriate crop varieties and through the precise application of inputs.

He said  difficult weather conditions for establishing crops last autumn, the long winter and the late cold spring made for a difficult start to year. But he said  despite this, most crops that were established in reasonable conditions have recovered well and have largely compensated for the delay in crop growth and development earlier in the year.

“So, at present yield potential for the tillage harvest looks reasonably good. Winter wheat, winter barley and oat crops are all looking good and showing potential, while most spring barley crops have recovered well, especially those where good establishment took place,” a statement from Teagasc this afternoon noted.

Updates on the possibility to breed wheat varieties for septoria resistance were presented at the Open Day.

“Up to 34 lines have been screened for septoria resistance over three years. Lines with good septoria resistance under Irish conditions have been selected. Researchers have identified genes linked to pathways underlying Septoria resistance and the genes will be used to assist future breeding of better varieties. This has the potential to improve profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of wheat production at farm level,” Teagasc noted.

Tillage growers were urged to test their soils regularly to monitor soil P and K fertility levels. “By using soil fertility levels to calculate P and K fertiliser rates there is an opportunity to maximise profits. Research has shown a yield response from using different application methods of P fertiliser.  On low P fertility soils, there are yield benefits from combine drilling P fertiliser at sowing time, compared to broadcasting it on the surface,” the latest update noted.

Head of the Teagasc tillage crops, environment and land use programme Paddy Browne said the Teagasc crops research programme and the advisory service is focused on providing the highest quality technical information that will be required by the industry to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.

At the Open Day farmers could discuss opportunities to fill fodder deficits on livestock farms from tillage crops. Information on making whole crop cereal silage and the possibilities of buying and treating grain off the combine were presented.

Image O’Gorman Photography