Field work

If the forecast for the next two weeks comes to pass there may be opportunities to catch up on fieldwork. This may mean further winter planting for some but for most it will mean applying herbicides and possibly insecticide.

With November behind us, many tillage areas had a wetter than average month, with only the Dublin region being lower than its 30-year average. Areas from Wexford down to Cork received more than 50% above their averages and yet there was work done in places.

The forecast hints at relatively dry weather for the next two weeks which is likely to allow some fieldwork. Some will continue planting – let experience and field history help you make that decision. Recent soil temperatures have been in the 6.5-9°C bracket so establishment may be slow.

Crows are a potentially a big concern in most parts of the country when planting now.

Nutrient plans

Given where fertiliser prices are, it makes perfect sense to have up-to-date soil tests and a fertiliser application plan to enable you to make best use of all fertiliser. You must also get your nutrient use report for 2022 sorted and have it available in the event of a cross-compliance inspection. All farmers are obliged to have an annual record of N and P purchased and used each year. The total use on a farm must be within the legal allowances for all individual crops and fields.

Calculating your nutrient allowances for 2023 is also a useful management tool. Your farm allowance is the combined allowances for each field based on the crop grown, its place in the rotation and its soil test results. Remember, a soil test cannot be more than four years old and if it is, that parcel now defaults to Index 4 for phosphorous.

Nutrient plans are now a requirement, but they are still of far greater value to the individual grower than to the inspector.


With frosts now mentioned more frequently in our weather forecasts, make sure that your sprayer and all water-cooled engines are protected from freezing. This means having anti-freeze in all machine parts that contain water. Before you put machines away, make sure they are in full working order for spring.

Now is a good time to check if your sprayer certificate is valid also, or about to become out of date. Many of the first certificates are now out of date and these sprayers must be retested. Get this done now as waiting until spring could prove to be a nuisance.

Soil testing: Get soil tests done as soon as possible so that you will have up-to-date results to guide both your nutrient plan and your application programme. You need a soil test for at least every five hectares but take more than that if you can identify specific variability within traditional testing areas. Lime and pH remain key to unlocking nutrient availability and the potential of your land.