A few years of a break may have added to the information provided at Teagasc’s recent crops forum. This was a hybrid event – a combination of people physically present and others who joined online.

It was great to meet so many people once again and the event itself carried very pertinent topics and important information.

The cereal variety updates have since been reflected in the publication of the recommended lists for next season.

As well as the update on varieties, Cara Mac Aodháin, agricultural inspector in the crop policy, evaluation and certification division at the Department of Agriculture, told us about the work being done by to help verify claims of either yellow dwarf virus tolerance or resistance in some winter barley varieties.

Virus-tolerant varieties

Cara reported visibly high levels of virus symptoms on some winter barley varieties, in particular. And while he acknowledged claims of BYDV tolerance in some new varieties, including KWS Joyau, he said the recommended list system is not yet in a position to verify this claim.

Cara said that trials are under way to assess these claims and two years of these evaluations have now been completed. However, as in all advice, a minimum of three years’ data is required to add confidence to any element of evaluation.

So this time next year he hopes that these very early sown winter barley trials will be able to provide reliable guidance to farmers as to the value and robustness of this BYDV tolerance trait.

Cara said that some varieties which claimed to carry tolerance or even resistance showed virtually zero levels of yellow leaf in comparison to varieties known to be susceptible. So that is certainly worth evaluating.

While I did not catch the names of some of these varieties, I did note that some of the ones that seemed to be very good against virus appeared to be very average on yield. This might seem like a negative but a variety with an average yield level that could safely be sown earlier in the autumn could still prove to be a very useful asset. We await next year’s results with interest.

Aphid flight monitoring

Virus diseases were also acknowledged as being one of a number of factors which negatively affected winter barley yields.

Michael Hennessy, head of crops knowledge transfer at Teagasc, gave a brief update of the aphid monitoring work at Teagasc. This found that there was still a level of aphid flight taking place in Cork in December 2021. Aphid flight had ceased in early November in Carlow.

This reflects the relative virus pressure encountered in the different regions.

Michael also said that ongoing BYDV control research confirmed that the long-standing advice stood up again in 2021-22. One or two insecticides did the business, depending on crop emergence date.

The research also showed that where a November spray was missed, an alternative timing in December or January still worked very well.

Also, additional spray applications above the one or two appropriately timed treatments added nothing in terms of yield.

CAP clarifications

Fran Morrin from the Department of Agriculture outlined details from the finalised version of the CAP that will apply from 2023 onwards. Most will already be familiar with the alteration of the payment arrangements which will see the BPS plus Greening payment morph into BISS, eco schemes, CRISS or front-loading, young farmers’ payments and protein aid payments.

The impact of these changes, plus ongoing convergence, will mean lower payments for most tillage farmers. Capping will also affect some growers, especially those locked into leases and rental agreements that extend into 2023 and beyond. As things stand, these arrangements are threatened by the cuts in support affecting existing lease agreements.

Fran confirmed that entitlement leasing will continue to be possible in the new CAP, but he also said there is no guarantee that this will be allowed after 2027.

Capping of payments will apply in the new CAP and this applies to the BISS payment only. A BISS payment of between €60,000 and €100,000 will see the amount above €60,000 reduced by 85%, with zero payment for amounts above €100,000. This means that the maximum BISS payment will be €66,000 per applicant.

A farmer who has a BPS plus Greening payment of €110,000 in 2022 will see it drop to €66,000 in 2023 and beyond, while an €80,000 payment will be reduced to €63,000.

On the issue of clawback of entitlement sales, Fran confirmed this will not apply to entitlements traded during 2023 and 2024. This is to encourage sales between owners and users to help regularise affairs.

He also confirmed no clawback will apply where a person rents out all their entitlements – this had been suggested as a possibility during negotiations.

Before concluding, Fran warned that anyone considering circumvention of the new arrangements will face stiffer scrutiny in the new CAP. This is where individuals make specific decisions with the sole purpose of reducing their deductions or increasing their access to entitlements.

While there is some flexibility, he warned the new CAP is much stronger on this than previous policies.

Machinery sharing

Teagasc launched a sample document for farmers considering sharing machines. It is designed to be a discussion document to encourage active conversation among farmers but it can also function as an actual agreement.

Launching the document, Shay Phelan of Teagasc said any such arrangements that ensue would not be entirely based on the Teagasc document but rather a personalised agreement between the individuals concerned.

Shay said machinery sharing is becoming increasingly necessary as average-sized and smaller tillage farms just cannot justify owning machines individually.

Three-crop rule gone for 2023

During discussion, Bill Callanan from the Department told the audience that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has agreed that the crop diversification requirement of the new CAP (the three-crop rule) will not apply in 2023.

This allows growers the freedom to select the crop makeup of their choice but good rotation remains central to profitable tillage farming and it should not be discarded without due consideration.

Winter oilseed rape

Speaking about the winter oilseed rape recommended list, Cara MacAodháin commented on the continuing improvement in the performance of that crop.

He said that in 2012 (10 years ago) the average yield of the control varieties in the recommended list trials was 4.0t/ha. In 2022, this average yield was 6.1t/ha. While there was some variability in yields in the interim years, the yield trend is unquestionably upwards.

He said that the introduction of traits such as pod shatter resistance, turnip yellows virus resistance, phoma and light leafspot resistance, clean stems and stronger stems have all helped contribute to the increasing yield over time.

These traits have also improved yield consistency from year to year.

Barra gone

In talking about winter oat varieties, Cara indicated that the long-performing Barra would exit the recommended list for 2023. Barra has been on the recommended list since 1986 and it has served growers well during the 36 years of its commercial lifespan. It held this position by virtue of its superb grain quality, which has only recently been equalled and surpassed. While it was outclassed on yield, the gap never extended to the degree that one might have expected, given its exceptionally long lifespan and the genetic improvement in the interim.

  • Most tillage farmers will suffer a reduction in CAP aid in 2023, some more significant than others.
  • The Department’s variety evaluation unit is carrying out trials to assess the capability of varieties that claim to carry BYDV tolerance or resistance.
  • The three-crop rule will not apply to tillage farmers in Ireland in 2023.
  • Barra leaves the winter oat recommended list after 36 years of service.
  • Circumvention will be seen as a serious breach of the regulations from 2023.