I farm: “A continuous tillage system, relying on a good rotation and chopping straw to maintain soil health. I grow winter barley for seed and feed, winter wheat for feed, spring barley for distilling and malting, oilseed rape, porridge oats and spring beans. Last week, we won the Glanbia Ireland Grain Supplier of the Year Award for 2020”.

Family: “As well as the farm, we run a hardware and electrical contracting business which has remained busy throughout the pandemic. My wife, Heather, mother, Elizabeth, and two sons, David and Ben, work at the family business while my father, John, who is now retired, helps me on the farm.”

Ground work: “My Bennington winter wheat and Cassia winter barley crops are looking good and will receive an application of 10:7:25 when the weather picks up. Ground work is still at a standstill as fields are saturated.”

Rotation: “We normally grow a break crop like beans or oilseed rape just before planting a premium crop. Having a good rotation is key in a continuous tillage system to maintain the yields of our best paying crops. We run a plough-based system but direct-drill beans. This year, we trialled direct drilling 50ac of winter wheat into bean stubble using a Mzuri drill. The crop looks great and it’s something we’ll continue to trial.”

Straw chopping: “I think an incentive to incorporate straw is a great idea and it will give some badly needed stability to the straw market. I would always chop a small amount of straw but will be chopping more this year. I will look after my regular customers and then chop the rest. I would be disappointed if the scheme isn’t continued. Tillage soils would benefit from chopping straw on a regular basis.”

Quotable quote: “Growing premium crops like distilling and malting barley, porridge oats and seed is vital to the viability of the farm business. You can’t survive on only growing crops for feed.”