Tillage farmers out in force in fine weather

There has been a massive improvement in soil conditions over the past few days as good weather prevails. Soil moisture deficits (SMDs) have turned around with values on well and moderately-drained soils as high as 14 – meaning the soil was 14mm away from field capacity as of Thursday, March 26.

An improvement could be seen during the week as the driest figures on Tuesday and Wednesday – March 24 and 25 – were 11mm and 13mm respectively. The east, midlands and south of the country are the driest.

However, some moderately and poorly-drained soils in the west of the country were still at saturation point (-10) on Wednesday, March 25, but had moved to -8 on Thursday, March 26.

The SMD is the amount of rain needed to bring the soil back to field capacity. An SMD of -10 means that the soil is at saturation point.

The SMD data from Met Éireann is outlined below.

Image source: Met Éireann

Field work

The improvement in soil conditions has seen a big increase in field work. Tillage farmers who had been forced to keep out of fields due to an exceptionally wet autumn and winter are making the most of the dry weather with ploughs, seed drills, fertiliser spreaders and sprayers all coming out of their sheds.

Work during the week was being carried out on drier ground as some farmers wait for parts of their land to dry out further.

Also Read: Safety first when tackling workload

Crop diversification exemptions

Exemptions to the crop diversification requirements announced by the Department of Agriculture this week will also take some pressure off at sowing time as tillage farmers will not have to stick rigidly to sowing a certain area of a crop to meet a two or three-crop rule requirement.

Spread the workload

However, many will try and spread out the workload and plant seed they have in stock like spring beans, wheat and oats. This may pay off in dividing out the workload later in the year.