Tony Bell

  • Balbriggan, Co Dublin
  • Autumn drilling continued over the weekend for Tony in good conditions, as his area did not receive the heavy rain last week that many parts of the country did. Despite this, Tony says he will be extremely busy for the next two weeks, weather dependent, to get all his maize harvested and winter cereals planted. The winter triticale, which Tony intended to plant all of in September, was only finished on Monday. This was planted at 150kg/ha and the variety is Rivolt. There are 150ac of this crop in total. Conditions were good in ground that has been strip-tilled for many years, but long-term full tillage land was much stickier and it was a struggle to get this planted. All of the spring bean fields have been strip-tilled with winter wheat. KWS Dawsum is being planted at 180kg/ha. Some of the winter wheat had a micro-granular bacterial biostimulant called Tandem applied simultaneously. Tony hopes that this can enhance the phosphorus uptake from the soil, activate the soil biology present in the soil, and promote root growth, especially in the rhizosphere.

    This will hopefully lead to a better utilisation of applied nutrients in fertiliser and compost. Tony has now caught up on drilling and is waiting to harvest more maize, so he can drill winter wheat directly behind the harvester. Tony started harvesting maize on Monday, which is about a week later than normal, but is still quite good considering the crop was planted three weeks later than usual.

    While the plant stand is not at an optimal level, cob formation is excellent, and Tony thinks that this will provide some compensation for the uneven germination. It should also create a very high-quality feed. The first of the maize is destined for a pit, but the majority of it will be baled. Tony does this to make transport to livestock farms around the country very efficient. However, haulage costs are continuously rising, and the cost now ranges from €10/t to €20/t, depending on distance, and speed of loading and unloading.

    Mark has taken every opportunity to get winter cereals planted over the past couple of weeks.

    Mark Hally

  • Cashel, Co Tipperary
  • Mark is taking every opportunity to get cereals planted, but ground is ploughing up a bit wetter since the heavy rain last week and is taking longer to dry out. Some fields had been ploughed in early September; these dried out relatively quickly. Mark is now trying to keep the plough about a day in front of the one-pass.

    Mark did not get an opportunity to sow winter rye due to the poor weather. He sees no point in mucking in any crop due to the price of seed, diesel, and fertiliser.

    Happily, he has managed to get some winter barley and winter wheat planted. The winter barley varieties are Belfry, Integral, and KWS Joyau. The six-row conventional varieties are being planted at 180kg/ha, while the hybrid Belfry is at a reduced rate. Mark was hoping to get the last of the barley planted before the rain arrived on Tuesday.

    Some winter wheat has been planted, but there is still more to drill. This will now have to wait until the land dries up again.

    The varieties sowed so far are KWS Dawsum and Graham. They were both planted around 175kg/ha.

    Mark also hopes to plant winter oats, but this will now depend on how the weather plays out in the next few weeks.

    The planting of cereals will have to be balanced with the harvesting of maize and beet. Both of these forage crops look quite good and should produce a decent yield.

    The maize is still quite green and will not be ready to harvest until next week. However, Mark hopes to start pulling beet this weekend if the weather allows.

    The winter oilseed rape has established very well. Mark says it is flying it and producing a good canopy already. It was sprayed for grassweeds post-emergence, and it will soon be due a fungicide to combat light leaf spot.

    The cover crop has germinated well on Jack's farm, but the plants remain at a very early stage of development.

    Jack Browne

  • Tullow, Co Carlow
  • It has been a quiet month for Jack on the farm. He has no winter crops to plant so the focus has been on paperwork, an ACRES training course, and planning for the next twelve months.

    The cover crops finally got planted near the end of September. Some good weather at the time helped with germination and while there is a good green cover, there still isn’t much bulk on the fields. Some species have coped better with the late planting than others. Some grassweeds have also germinated.

    Jack hopes that stale seedbed preparation in the spring can help to control these grassweeds before a spring crop is planted.

    There is a very nice cover on the multispecies sward cut for hay in July. The clover has really helped to push the crop forward and dominates the sward.

    The fields with hay harvested in September have less of a cover, with grasses dominating. Sheep will be brought in on these swards for the winter in the next few weeks.

    Jack has also begun walking his agroforestry to identify gaps and dead trees. These will be replanted over the winter. Pruning will also be done in late winter, or early spring, to open up the canopy.

    For next year, Jack will plant spring oats after the spring wheat. He is deciding whether a combi-crop, a straight legume, or a legume mix will be planted where the spring oats were this year.

    This ground is nearing the bottom of its nutrient cycle, so it will be planted with a herbal ley or multispecies sward following harvest.

    Some of the multispecies sward will then replace this ground. A cut of hay will be taken in July, followed by the planting of a cover crop in preparation for the sowing of a spring cereal in 2025.