Farmers continued to dig potatoes, beet and drill crops while the weather held dry. This is great to balance risk and workload. Put out crow frighteners when needed.

Slugs remain an issue in fields so put out traps with porridge and a slate over it. If there are four slugs under the slate after a day then go with pellets, avoiding rain where possible.

Slug pellets are in demand and short supply so please don’t bulk buy if they are not needed as farmers who need them may not have access to pellets if everyone does this.

Crops that have not emerged

Hold tight on making decisions on crops that have not emerged. If the crop is patchy or has low plant counts wait for another while to assess it.

Some may turn out to be better than they look. Leave it until the end of January or early February to decide.

Unharvested crops

Inspections of unharvested crops have been under way over the past two weeks. You must leave the unharvested crops untouched to allow for inspection in order to receive the payment.

This is unfortunate. I know of a number of farmers who disced-in their unharvested crops and planted winter cereals.

They took pictures of crops beforehand and if you went out to the field with a spade it would be fairly clear that a crop was cultivated into the ground.

Those farmers were afraid that they would not meet their three-crop rule requirements and they were right as the Department are not seeking a derogation from this rule, despite the wet autumn.

It’s hard to believe that this rule remains in place when winter cereal area is likely down on last year. The knock-on impact on ACRES measures makes you wonder about the Government’s target to increase tillage area.

Pesticide advice

The Department of Agriculture has recently updated its pesticide advisers’ register. Farmers should check the register to ensure their pesticide adviser is registered on the pesticide advisers’ list.

Any person giving professional advice on pesticides needs to be appropriately trained. After this, each year pesticide advisers have to carry out Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

This means advisers must attend events and webinars to keep up to date with the latest advice and rules.

They then have to supply records of this to the Department of Agriculture who then publish registered advisers on their website.

Getting proper advice on pesticide use is very important for safety, efficient use and following proper guidelines from label rates and timings to buffer zones and tank mixing, as well as for inspection by the Department and the Irish Grain Assurance Scheme.

As regulations become tighter on pesticide use and products are lost from the market it is important that all of the industry follows appropriate advice, rules and carries out proper record keeping.