Tillage farms face massive workload and regulations

Storm Jorge at the weekend further dampened hopes of getting out to fields, meaning things have not changed for tillage farmers.

The workload is still great and for those who have to comply with crop diversification requirements for the spring time the days are ticking by for optimum sowing times, particularly for crops like wheat and beans.

Add in a seed shortage and filling that three-crop rule may require a magician and not a farmer.

Last week AgriLand visited John Murphy, who runs a tillage enterprise outside Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford and spoke to Shay Phelan – a tillage specialist with Teagasc. See what they thought in the short video below.

John commented that there has been constant rain since the National Ploughing Championships and his priority has been pulling beet, as a result he did not get his usual amount of winter cereals planted.

This is concerning for him as his winter wheat crops generate a good return and also help to divide out the workload. John outlined that the repercussions of the bad weather will run on into the growing season and harvest time.

At present, John outlined that he is: “Running into problems accessing seed for spring crops. Spring wheat seed seems to be scarce, bean seed seems to be scarce as well. Barley seed is going to get scarce.”

Crop diversification requirements

As the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) grain chairperson in Co. Wexford, he is worried about farmers fulfilling crop diversification requirements.

The three-crop rule is going to be something that has to be majorly looked at because of the way weather has gone.

“We know we have to meet all of the criteria in other years, but in this year, the way the weather is looking we’re going to have to seek a derogation for it,” John commented.

Shay Phelan of Teagasc outlined estimates of what has been planted so far, while also noting that some of these crops did not grow.

“We had estimated that somewhere around 50% of the intended winter crop area had been planted. Looking at the department’s figures from seed sales that’s probably slightly higher now.

“There’s probably still some seed in yards that haven’t been sown yet.”

Shay stated that 160,000-170,000ha of spring cereals have yet to be planted and advised farmers to order seed well in advance of sowing to ensure they have supplies.

He also explained that for farmers who grow spring crops only there is no exemption from the crop diversification requirements and that at present the department will look at different scenarios on a case-by-case basis.

Safety is paramount

As there is a lot of work to be done the most important thing is that farmers stay safe.

There is a lot of work to be done. Safety is paramount. Most important to all farm families is that everyone returns home safely at the end of the day.

Shay advised farmers to take regular breaks, stop for their meals and get enough sleep so that they go out every morning fresh. He noted that accidents happen when people rush.