My name is Rachael Doak. I’m 13 years old and I live on a tillage farm near Avoca in Co. Wicklow. We grow crops like wheat, barley, oats, beans and oilseed rape (OSR). We also keep some store bullocks and lambs that we fatten and finish for the factory. The farm has been in our family for eight generations.
We grow the crops in a rotation – for example, wheat always follows OSR. Rotating the crops helps to keep nutrients in the soil and to control pests, weeds and diseases. We are part of the Irish Grain Assurance scheme and have to keep records of our crops and the sprays and fertilisers that we use.
The best thing about tillage farming is watching the crop grow from a tiny seed to being fit to cut. There is nothing better than eating chips in the field on a sunny evening during the harvest.
There are also many challenges in tillage farming. The weather is a big factor and we have no control over that. I am in first year and we are learning about how to do a budget in business. Budgeting on a tillage farm is very difficult. We never know what price we are going to be paid for our grain until after the harvest.
There is nothing better than eating chips in the field on a sunny evening during the harvest
Some farmers ‘forward-sell’ part of their crop – this means they agree to a price set by the grain merchant earlier in the year. My granddad and uncle always said that you can’t sell what you don’t have in the shed.
I like to follow the political side of farming. This year, the effect the Russia-Ukraine war has had on Irish farming and especially tillage farming has been huge. Russia and Ukraine are a big part of global agricultural and food trade and are known as the bread basket of Europe. Less grain has been exported from these countries this year because of the war and this has caused the price paid for crops like wheat to go up.
However, the price we have to pay for inputs like fuel, fertilisers and sprays have skyrocketed and farmers are struggling to buy them.
This scheme is a good idea in theory, but leaves farmers wondering whether or not they should plant more crops without knowing if the scheme will be continued next year
The Government encouraged farmers to grow more crops to lessen the impact in Ireland. A scheme called the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) was introduced in June 2022. To be eligible, farmers had to show an increase in their tillage crop area in 2022 compared to what they sowed in 2021. The payment rate was €400 per hectare, which contributed to the cost of growing the crops.
This scheme is a good idea in theory, but leaves farmers wondering whether or not they should plant more crops without knowing if the scheme will be continued next year.
In the future, I hope we can educate people on how much work goes into agriculture and I hope that children get more involved when it comes to farming. I hope people learn how much of an effect politics and war have on farming.