New Year

Happy New Year to all our readers. The first few days of January have brought plenty of rain, but it’s the time of year for it, so make use of this time to plan and prepare for the season ahead while rain continues to fall.

This year, at present looks like it may be a difficult one on grain price and input costs, with Teagasc predicting a drop in tillage incomes of 48%.

It is also a year in which tillage farmers face cuts in CAP payments and have many new rules to contend with, so planning is essential, from soil sampling to crop rotation.

You need to cut costs and plan for the most efficient crops where possible.

Once conditions dry up a little bit there will be an opportunity to soil sample if you have not done so already. If soil samples are being taken to use under an eco-scheme, as part of the new CAP they need to be taken every 3ha, and if lime is required it must be applied in the year of sampling.

Be sure to check what eco-schemes you need to carry out in 2023. You may automatically qualify for eco-schemes by having enough Space for Nature on your farm, but if you don’t you need to get the money back by carrying out soil sampling, crop rotation or using GPS technology.

Check your Space for Nature on or ask your adviser.

Keep up to date

There are plenty of events on in January to keep our tillage knowledge up to date. On January 10, 11 and 12 the Irish Seed Trade Association is running seminars to help to identify problem grassweeds and highlight the importance of having high seed standards.

All events run from 10.30am to 2.30pm each day and take place in the Talbot Hotel, Clonmel on 10 January, Mount Wolseley Hotel, Tullow on 11 January and the Knightsbrook Resort, Trim on 12 January.

Dairygold will hold its Annual Tillage Conference on Friday, 13 January at 2pm in Corrin Events Centre. Soil health is the main topic up for discussion.

Speakers on the day include Teagasc tillage specialist Ciarán Collins, John Geraghty, who is a lecturer in Waterford and an agricultural consultant, and Jim McCarthy who farms in Romania. There will also be a panel discussion and plenty of time for questions.

Look back

On this week and next week’s tillage pages Andy Doyle looks back at forty years of working in the tillage sector. This week the demise of the sugar beet industry is one of the main topics, while Andy also looks at how varieties and fungicides have developed over time.

It is essential reading for all, as while we see the huge progress that has been made, the impact of the loss of the sugar industry has not been forgotten.

I referred to 2023 being a challenging year at the beginning of this column. The progress and great yields talked about in Andy’s look back on forty years in tillage remind us that challenges can be overcome.

I, and I’m sure all our readers, would like to wish Andy the very best of luck in his retirement from tillage editor. He has provided essential advice for all over the years and will continue to play a key role in the tillage sector’s future through his work with Tillage Industry Ireland and the wider sector.