Tillage farmers are being urged to review all their costs now amid the uncertainty over input prices,

Teagasc tillage specialist, Shay Phelan, said: “The uncertainty of grain prices, fertiliser costs and availability, and the cost of diesel have many tillage farmers scratching their heads as to what to do with crops for the season.

“Many farmers have forward-bought fertiliser and have been insulated from the worst impacts of the recent increases.

“However, from a survey carried out by Teagasc in March, it was seen that a significant number of farmers have been left exposed. Therefore, all farmers should sit down and do a detailed review of their crops, assess how much fertiliser is available and how much the crops should receive.”

Fertiliser costs for tillage farmers

Earlier in the year it was estimated that according to the breakeven ratio (BER) of the cost of grain relative to the cost of nitrogen (N), winter wheat and barley crops should receive between 25kg/ha and 30kg/ha less than the maximum allowed rate.

“This may or may not have changed based on the cost of the fertiliser purchased and the price of grain, either expected or forward sold, if any,” Phelan added.

“Where there may be a shortage of fertiliser, prioritise crops that are likely to return the most money.

“Every farmer’s situation is different, so it is important that this review is carried out.”

Meanwhile, spring crops remain a key focus of attention for tillage farmers. Teagasc is advising that the sowing of wheat, oats and beans should be completed as soon as possible.

There is still plenty of time to sow barley. However, seed rates should be increased as April progresses.

March-sown cereal crops do not need an aphicide, except in areas with a history of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) or near the coast.

However, April/May-sown crops should receive an aphicide at the 3-4 leaf stage for optimum effect, according to Teagasc advice.

Growers should use full label rates to get best control. But crops should be monitored after spraying to assess for resistant aphids.

Where weed control is concerned, Teagasc is advising early application (4-5 leaf stage of the crop). Using reduced rates at this stage will save money.

Best results are achieved when the weed and crop are growing actively.

The weather before spraying will influence how well the weed takes up the chemical. Ideally, growers should wait for two to three warm days before spraying.