Keep an eye out for slugs and apply pellets where needed. Crows are attacking many crops and are difficult to control. Hopefully, crops will get away from them quickly. Put out bangers and frighteners where possible.


When weather allows ploughing may be carried out, apart from land where stubble was left uncultivated. This needs to be left until 1 February, unless a crop is being planted. Ploughing now will allow frost to break down the soil. Very importantly, it can help to break up workload for many. If you’re a part-time farmer and have a few days off, it’s hard to pass up ploughing if land dries out. It will take some pressure off. Spraying of glyphosate can also be carried out on cultivated land. Temperatures have been warm lately, so if a drier day comes it might be a chance to get that job done. Remember cover crops need to be left in place until 1 January. You may have an opportunity to spray herbicide on winter cereals where land dries out. Don’t forget to put anti-freeze back in the sprayer if frost is forecast.


This time of the year is a good time to bring Department of Agriculture and Irish Grain Assurance Scheme records up to date. Try not to leave it into the new year. You never know when you will be inspected, so having it ready to go is a big help if an inspection takes place when you are very busy. Get your costs and returns in shape as well while going through your files, and make sure you know which crops are performing best for your farm.


Check your bank accounts and to make sure that payments are arriving. The Protein Payment, Straw Incorporation Measure and Tillage Incentive Scheme payments are all due in December. Some have been issued, so keep an eye out. The protein aid budget was increased, so payments are now €583/ha for 2023. That’s a great boost for the end of the year.

Teagasc survey

Teagasc is currently trying to estimate the area of winter cereals planted across the country, as well as the area which has not emerged. It’s a quick survey and will help Teagasc to know what advice farmers need in the new year, so make an effort to fill it out if you can. Scan the QR code with the camera on your smartphone, click on the link that comes up and you can take the survey on your phone.

Take a break

Finally, and very importantly, happy Christmas to all readers. Thank you all for reading throughout the year and for your feedback. Thank you to all who contributed to articles and podcasts in 2023, from farmers and agronomists, to industry and researchers. Take a break over Christmas. There will always be jobs to be done. There might be cattle to feed, but try and have a lot done on Christmas Eve and have a few quieter days.