Weather boost: The good but unseasonable weather was a feature of everyone’s life for much of March and it certainly helped the tillage sector.

There has been a lot of planting done but some land remained quite sticky.

Some growers are likely to be finished planting at this stage while others have quite a bit left to do.

We are also moving into the time for the main nitrogen splits on winter cereals. It is also PGR time on many winter crops.

Soil temperatures have begun to climb on the back of the recent sunshine and it is likely that they will stay up now.

Slow fields: Growth is evident in most winter crops but some seem slower to green up than one might like.

Get someone to take a look at these fields, as there could be an underlying problem such as a trace element deficiency.

It could also be that such a field is either heavy or tight and slow to dry out and warm up. If this is the case you need to do something to improve soil structure to help open up the soil. Background soil problems cost you most years.

Planting incentive: While planting progress has been variable there is now a lot of the spring-sown acres in the ground.

The incentive to grow more crops should be considered but it is only applicable to cropped acres that follow grass and it has to be additional cropped area on any application.

You must meet both requirements.

The incentive applies to any harvestable crop except beans, which are aided separately. Realistically one should stay away from crops that are sown to a stand following grass due to potential problems with pests.

The other thing that must be considered here is fertility. Many grass fields have very shallow fertility layers which can become very diluted during cultivation, especially ploughing.

This could mean that a crop following grass would have a bigger than anticipated fertiliser requirement and possibly lime also. So availability of fertiliser should be seriously considered before taking on grass.

If you are taking on grass with moderate to low fertility, oats is probably the preferable crop. Barley needs a high pH (6.5 plus) and good balanced fertility, but oats will cope better where these are not the case. In all instances it is beneficial to combine drill crops sown after grass.

Drill remaining spring barley at around 170 kg/ha (11 st/ac) to establish 320 plants/m2 at 88% establishment using 45g TGW seed. Plant spring rape at around 5 kg/ha.

Beans: The rate of aid for beans is guaranteed to be a minimum of €300/ha. This helps the crop to stack up, especially where nitrogen availability is limited. It also has the advantage of reducing N requirement for next year’s crop in that field as fertiliser issues are likely to continue.

Bulk Fertiliser: While availability is generally tight, access will be up to three weeks quicker if using bulk fertiliser rather than waiting for bagged product.