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.

What is the biggest challenge facing crop production?
  • 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.

Given resistance development, loss of actives and regulatory constraints, what will fungicide-based disease control look like in the future?
  • 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%.

Brexit

The morning’s poll was focused mainly on Brexit and a realistic or pessimistic 77% stated that Brexit was bad for the tillage sector.

For the tillage sector, what do you think Brexit is?
  • 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%.

How will Brexit impact on the crop area produced in 2026?
  • 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.

What role do you think IPM has on Irish arable 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%.

Which of the following do you consider most important for IPM?
  • 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%.

What is your main source of pest control information?
  • 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%.

Which best describes your relationship with your main crop protection advisor?
  • 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%.

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