The key to the future profitability of the tillage sector is to exploit our high yield potential with rotations playing a key role, according to John Spink who was speaking at the Teagasc Tillage conference.

He said that three of the main factors which determine profitability in good rotations are: profitable break crops, cost effective and sustainable disease control, and an understanding of crop growth and yield formation.

“These three factors will together maximise yield.”

At the Teagasc National Tillage conference in Kilkenny Teagasc adviser Ivan Whitten and Kildare farmer Tim Ronaldson explained what they have been doing to ensure compliance from a practical point of view.

Ivan stressed that ‘Urgent action is needed and farmers must pay close attention to their obligations in order to optimise their own situation’.

The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the move from the single farm payment to the Basic Payment Scheme will significantly reduce the payments made to tillage farmers in Ireland, and the reductions will increase over the coming five years, the audience heard.

A proportion of this shortfall can be made up by ensuring that their farms comply with ‘greening’ requirements, the associated payments can make up 30% of the total payments available.

Reporting on the latest fungicide survey information, Stephen Kildea said that while resistance to Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides has not been found in Ireland prudent use of these chemicals remains essential.

“SDHIs should not be used more than twice in a season and where they are they should be used in combination with a chemical from another family of fungicides.”

The Teagasc Spring Barley Guide produced in collaboration with DAFM and Boortmalt was launched at the conference. The guide brings together the latest Teagasc crop physiology and agronomy research.

It gives a detailed description of how the crop grows and forms its yield and details crop management to optimise crop growth and yield in a one-stop shop for researchers, advisers, farmers and students. Copies of this chargeable publication are available from Eleanor Butler at Teagasc Oak Park.