Spayer testing

All sprayers need to have a test certificate that is in date. Sprayer tests are now required every three years, no matter how much the sprayer is used. Sprayers last tested or bought in 2021 are due a test in 2024.

Sprayer testing is a requirement under CAP and if not carried out, payments could be impacted. Department inspectors will look for a test certificate in an inspection. Sprayer tests must be carried out by an approved equipment inspector.

The list of approved inspectors is available on the Department’s PCS website. Farmers with more queries should contact

Soil sampling

This will need to be carried out before any slurry, farmyard manure, lime or fertiliser is applied to fields. There is often high demand at this time of the year, so book your soil sampling early if samples are due.

You need a sample every 4ha or 10ac, every four years. Soil sampling can save you money on the fertiliser bill in the long run.


Bring the books up to date as the year closes. It is important to know how crops are performing to help make planting decisions and inform selling decisions.

Teagasc survey

There is still time to complete the Teagasc planting survey. This survey aims to put an estimate on how farmers progressed with winter planting and their plans for spring planting.

You can fill out the survey by following links on the Irish Farmers Journal and Teagasc websites.

Cover crop destruction

Cover crops planted under ACRES can be grazed, sprayed or destructed from 1 January. If plants have not flowered, then sheep could come in to graze the crops. Adding livestock to your system can really help to improve your soil.

Good fencing is paramount and remember you can only graze crops if the appropriate buffers are in place and a lie back is available. A 3m buffer of volunteer cereals or grass is required around the whole perimeter of the cover crop.

This extends to 4m at a watercourse. If you have 7ac of cover crop, then you need 3ac of lie-back in stubble or grass. Where crops are not being grazed and weeds are not an issue in the crop, then rolling in the frost could be an option.

Rolling in a hard frost breaks the stems on the plants and kills the crop. Some crops, like phacelia, for example, should die off in the frost, but others will need to be controlled and rolling has proved affective.

Seed shortage

There is a shortage of spring seed in the country, so try and order your seed early. Recommended lists will not be available from the Department of Agriculture until mid January.

See what varieties worked well last year and what your adviser recommends. If growing spring malting barley, you may need to stick with one variety.

Happy New Year

Happy new year to everyone. We know 2023 was a difficult one. However, 2022 was a great year for tillage. There will be good and bad ones. Let’s hope the year ahead is a good and safe one.