The lack of drying from persistent rain is extremely frustrating. Some farmers managed to get onto land at the weekend and Monday, but really only to catch up on work, like applying fertiliser to winter barley and some with growth regulator and herbicides.

There was less opportunity for planting, although some farmers did manage to get out to plant beans and some spring cereals on drier ground. As we head towards St Patrick’s Day, hopefully the weather will improve.

Work is building up, but there is nothing we can do only try to be patient and be ready to roll when the weather does turn. Have seed and fertiliser in the yard and all machinery ready for off.

It is better to wait for good conditions than to go out into fields too soon. Met Éireann had soil moisture deficits for well-drained soils at zero this week, so not too bad, but rain this week and next week is unlikely to lead to major changes or moves to the field, so we are looking at a very late start to planting.

Try to keep winter crops on track. GS30 is the time to apply nitrogen to winter wheat and the main split on winter barley. To increase tiller number apply CeCeCe before GS30. This might also be an opportunity to control weeds. Mind stems by applying after GS30. A product like Moddus or Medax Max should be used at this time and possibly mixed with CeCeCe. Keep an eye out for disease in crops and add a fungicide if needed. Wild oats and canary grass may also need to be looked at.

Crop diversification

At the time of going to print the Irish Farmers Journal understood that flexibility was coming on the two- and three-crop rule requirements. However, no confirmation or clarification of what that flexibility would be had been released by the Department of Agriculture.


Many of you should now have received payments which had been delayed. If you have not, please let us know.

Buffers: At a crop walk last week Teagasc made a statement on buffer zones that most were not aware of. They said that the 3m buffer required beside a watercourse is also required on the other side of a hedge. So, you have a 3m buffer, the watercourse, a hedge and then a 2m buffer on the other side of the hedge.

The three take home messages were that:

  • Beside a watercourse, a 3m uncultivated buffer is required and this cannot be sprayed or fertilised.
  • A watercourse which had a hedge growing on one side of the drain needs a 3m buffer on both sides. The hedge counts for 1m of the buffer and another 2m needs to be left on the other side of the hedge.
  • Beside a dry drain or a water feature, plant protection products cannot be sprayed and fertiliser cannot be spread in the 3m from the top of the bank, so farmers are probably better off to not cultivate this strip and plant grass.