Tillage conference: The audience’s view
The audience played a big part in this year’s Teagasc National Tillage Conference. Members of the crowd took part in various polls throughout the day on topics from Brexit, to the chemical toolbox and integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.
Challenges facing the sector
When asked what the biggest factor facing the sector was the response was focused on chemicals. 52% of participants in the poll outlined the loss of active ingredients as the biggest challenge facing the sector.
- Loss of active ingredients (e.g. glyphosate, chlorothalonil) – 52%;
- Farm gate prices – 27%;
- Brexit – 18%;
- Regulatory constraints – 3%.
With this in mind, the majority of farmers were realistic about making the move to a mixed strategy approach to pest control as can be seen in the results below.
- The availability of effective fungicides will be extremely limited requiring other approaches – 48%;
- There will be a notable impact on control but with fungicides still playing an important role – 33%;
- Same as today, but with more expensive products – 11%;
- Less fungicides about, but largely similar control available today – 9%.
The morning’s poll was focused mainly on Brexit and a realistic or pessimistic 77% stated that Brexit was bad for the tillage sector.
- Bad – 77%;
- No effect – 15%;
- Good – 8%.
Looking to the future, tillage farmers showed their resilience with a total of 62% thinking that the tillage area would either stay the same or decrease by 1-10%.
- Stay the same – 31%;
- Decrease by 1-10% – 31%;
- Decrease by more than 10% – 18%;
- Increase by 1-10% – 14%;
- Increase by more than 10% – 5%.
Integrated pest management
Very positively IPM is being taken seriously by Irish tillage farmers. A very significant result was that 89% of farmers consider IPM to be an extremely important tool on tillage farms.
- Important tool for future pest control – 48%;
- Essential component of farm practice – 41%;
- Great in principle, but not in practice – 7%;
- More red tape – 2%;
- I don’t know what IPM is – 2%.
- Preventative measures (e.g. resistance) – 31%;
- Biological measures (e.g. competitive crops, beetle banks etc) – 6%;
- Cultural control measures (e.g. sowing date, seed rates etc) – 40%;
- Monitoring insects, weeds and diseases – 12%;
- Minimum use of pesticides – 11%.
- Open days / crop walks – 29%;
- Farmer discussion groups – 14%;
- Other farmers – 2%;
- Independent agronomist – 13%;
- Merchant agronomist – 22%;
- Contractors – 2%;
- Past experience – 3%;
- Farming press – 15%.
- I rely on them and act on their suggestions – 21%;
- I tell them what I want and they respond to meet my needs – 6%;
- We decide on the pest management strategy together – 25%;
- I listen to their advice, but will always consult other sources of information – 19%;
- I listen to their advice, but will adjust if needed in the field – 5%;
- I don’t use an advisor – 14%.