Profitability challenge facing Irish tillage farmers key focus of Teagasc open day

The profitability challenge facing Irish tillage farmers was at the centre of all discussions and demonstrations at Teagasc’s Crops and Cultivation 2017 open day.

The event is taking place today, June 28, at Teagasc’s Crops Science Research Centre at Oak Park in Co. Carlow; it is set to run until 6:00pm.

Profitable tillage production in Ireland is dependent on high yields, the Head of the Teagasc Crops Research programme, John Spink, told visitors today.

“The effective control of weeds, pests and diseases is critical to achieving this.

However in all cases, development of resistance to crop protection products – in combination with reduced availability of products, as a result of changes in legislation – is making control ever more difficult.

He stressed the importance of growers using all available methods, such as: sowing date; seed rate; and variety choice – in an integrated approach to weed, pest and disease control.

The use of rotations is a critical element to sustainable crop production, he added.

“A large body of work to develop agronomic approaches for the production of alternative crops, including: oats; beans; and oilseed rape is being demonstrated. We urgently need better varieties.

“There is a significant effort going into developing them as part of a large, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine funded centre – the Virtual Irish Centre for Crop Improvement (VICCI).

“This is also being demonstrated here in Oak Park today,” Spink said.

Cultivation demonstrations

Meanwhile, a range of crop establishment methods featured at the event. Different types of machinery available were exhibited by machinery suppliers.

A crops and mechanisation researcher with Teagasc, Dermot Forristal, explained how soil cultivation and crop establishment are critical components of crop production. He went on to highlight how they can impact on costs, crop performance and sustainability.

While many non-plough systems are now offered, these must be carefully assessed for our climate – where mild and wetter conditions can cause particular challenges.

“The correct choice of system and machine for specific farm situations is crucial, as is the matching management package to optimise performance and minimise threats such as grass weed proliferation,” he said.

At the event, Teagasc research findings on crop establishment were merged with a working demonstration of machines and crop establishment systems.

This was carried out to stimulate consideration and debate on this important production element, Forristal added.

Crops and Cultivation 2017 also incorporated a major exhibition on farm safety. Farmers and their families were reminded of the risks on tillage farms, as well as the best practices to be adopted to avoid injuries and fatalities.