The weather is playing havoc in Waterford. Pádraig says it is worse than last year, as he was able to get his oats and beans sowed in February 2023. There is also a buildup of unsown land from the autumn. He has managed to get slurry spread on his spring ground, and he is now thinking of switching the rotation around to allow beans to be planted sooner into drier land.

Pádraig is planning to max out the Straw Incorporation Measure this year, with low yields of straw expected.

The winter barley is now up to 137kg N/ha, and the last fertiliser will be applied shortly. It also received its first spray, consisting of 1.5l/ha CeCeCe 750, 0.5l/ha Tokyo, 0.6l/ha Modem 200, 0.5l/ha Axial pro, and trace elements.

Pádraig has 25ac of Integral for seed for Goldcrop after spring beans, with more Integral, KWS Joyau and KWS Tardis going for feed too. Most of the barley looks good, but one hilly field that was drilled across the slope has lots of tracks, and these are crossing the tramlines, making spreading and spraying difficult.

Pádraig has also noticed that the last headland run of the seed drill is quite poor.

He thinks this is because the soil got tilled too much between the ins and outs and the headland run, resulting in over-tilled soil which compacted and created a crust with the heavy rain after planting.

There is 30ac of KWS Dawsum winter wheat on the farm. It has received 38kg N/ha so far, but Pádraig will apply a further 100kg N/ha when the soil conditions allow.

The wheat looked poor after the winter, so the compound fertiliser was split in two to give the wheat a kick, and Pádraig says it has improved a lot over the past six weeks.

It also got its first spray last week, consisting of Alister Flex (0.8l/ha) and Boudha (0.16g/ha).

This did leave some tracks in the field, but Pádraig says he just had to get it done.

Sam Myles

Kepak Farm, Clonee, Co Meath

Sam is keeping busy on the cattle side of the farm, with very little opportunity for fieldwork so far in Co Meath. He had planned to apply cattle slurry to the winter wheat crop this spring using an umbilical system, but the soil conditions have not allowed this to happen.

However, 115kg N/ha has been applied to the winter wheat as urea. The wheat is after forage maize, and has also received its herbicide and a growth regulator. Sam is happy enough with the crop considering the weather this year.

Final fertiliser

The winter oilseed rape has received its final fertiliser as it is just starting to flower. The crop received protected urea first, and Sam came back last week with a sulphate of ammonia product, which has 21% nitrogen and 24% sulphur.

With the crop also having received a fungicide earlier in the spring, the crop looks very well, and Sam is glad to have a good crop in the ground with the gates nearly closed on the oilseed rape fields.

Sam's flowering winter oilseed rape on the Kepak Farm.

Sam has 40ha of spring barley to plant, and the rest of the ground is then being devoted to maize, which is used to finish cattle on-farm. The maize will be planted under plastic.

Sam feels that the new bio-plastic is not quite as good as the old plastic, but the main drawback is how expensive it is.

Sam sprayed off cover crops in February, and finished any other stubbles last week, but he has not managed to plough anything yet. He has taken the few opportunities available to apply 3,000 gallons/ac of cattle slurry to the spring barley ground and some dung still has to be applied too.

The maize fields will get slurry nearer to planting.

He hopes that the next couple of weeks will provide some opportunities to get work done.

When speaking to Tom at lunchtime on Monday, 32.1mm of rain had already fallen that morning, and there was no sign of the rain easing anytime soon. This has left fields saturated and there is now fieldwork to be caught up on. Tom has spent the wet days planning for the season ahead and the fungicide programmes for the potatoes and vegetables.

Tom's Husky winter oats have some mildew but are in good condition.

Despite the weather, the winter barley has tillered well and looks good. It has only received a herbicide spray so far, and Tom wants to get growth regulator and a wild oat spray applied as soon as machinery can travel. The barley is also due its main split of nitrogen soon, and the crop will be finished at 187kg N/ha.

The winter oats also look promising. There is a small bit of powdery mildew visible on the leaves, but Tom says this is normal for the farm’s locality.

A mildewcide will be included in the next spray, which is due shortly. The oats are also due their final split of nitrogen, which will bring the crop up to 150kg N/ha.

The only spring crop fieldwork that has taken place on the farm so far is the spreading of slurry and the spraying off of fields. There are spring oats, spring barley, potatoes, carrots and forage maize to be planted. Planting started on 20 April last year and it looks like it will be similar this year.

All nitrogen has been applied in the seedbed to spring cereals over the past couple of years, even though malting barley is not grown, to ensure prompt uptake by the plants and that the granules do not lie on the surface during a dry spell for a number of weeks.

Tom has not ploughed any spring ground yet, as he finds that ploughing in advance is not ideal for the potato and vegetable crops. The ground will be wetter at depth than fresh ploughing, and fresh ploughing leads to a better soil structure too.