Some more fieldwork has been carried out in recent weeks. A nice area of winter cereals was planted and beet and potatoes were harvested. Keep seed rates up for winter cereals at this time of the year, and take conditions into account.

Crows will likely be an issue and keep an eye on the slugs. The forecast looks dry up to the middle of next week, so hopefully there will be more opportunities for fieldwork.

Hedge cutting may also be carried out, but remember in parcels being used under ACRES hedges need to be allowed to grow to 1.8m.


In some fields land may be dry enough to travel. If it is, and if crops are not too stressed then herbicides could be applied. Early application is important for better control.

At this time of the year you should really have a contact herbicide in the mix rather than just residual. Don’t forget the antifreeze once spraying is finished. There is a lot of frost in the forecast at the minute.


Friday is 1 December, which means tillage farmers can start to plough and spray off green cover. Land which has been cultivated after harvest or planted with a catch crop can now be ploughed, sprayed or cultivated.

However, land which has not been cultivated cannot be touched until 1 February, unless a crop is going to be planted immediately.

Keeping a green cover on land is of course important to protect soil and take up nutrients from the soil.

However, where land is dry enough to plough in the coming weeks, some farmers will take the opportunity to get a start on cultivations to reduce stress at planting time.

Ploughed ground can also benefit from frost, as it helps to break up the soil. Catch crops planted under a scheme cannot be cultivated or grazed until 1 January.

Catch crops also cost a significant amount of money, so you should try and leave them in place for as long as possible.

Crop diversification

There will be no derogation from the crop diversification requirements or two and three-crop rule this season, the Department of Agriculture has told the Irish Farmers Journal.

This is despite poor planting conditions this autumn. At present, winter planting area looks to be below last year.

Farmers who do not meet two and three-crop requirements in the 2023/2024 season will have to plant catch crops after harvest. This will need to be approved by the Department.

The area of catch crop has not yet been specified, but is normally 50% where farmers carry out the measure to plant malting barley on most of their land.

This means planning needs to start now to avoid issues with ACRES measures for catch crops and over-winter stubble.

Catch crops must be planted before 15 September 2024 and kept in place until after 1 December 2024.


A reminder that the Irish Tillage and Land Use Society’s Winter Conference is next Thursday, 7 December in the Clanard Court Hotel. Register by emailing

There are talks on tillage incomes, weather, mental health, gene editing, added value crops and soil health.