Fertiliser plans

By now a lot of soil test results are back. If you haven’t calculated your fertiliser needs then you need to do this as soon as possible and get some product in the yard. The forecast is still unsettled, but next week looks somewhat drier.

It is important that when the weather does turn for the better, that jobs like ordering fertiliser and seed and collecting or taking delivery of these products is all out of the way. You will need compounds for winter crops once conditions allow you to travel.

A handy tool to calculate fertiliser requirements is the Fertilizer Association of Ireland’s P and K calculator. Go to www.fertilizer-assoc.ie and click on calculators.

Enter your P and K indices from your soil tests, your average yields and note any organic manures or straw incorporation and it will produce a fertiliser recommendation. If you have high soil pH it won’t account for additional allowances for phosphorus.

Winter cereals

Once you can travel, winter crops will benefit from P and K fertiliser and a small amount of nitrogen. The first split of nitrogen on winter barley and wheat should be at mid-tillering, and should be about 30% of the total requirement.

Where there is a take-all risk, early nitrogen can help the plant get ahead of the disease.

Oilseed rape

Carry out green area index assessments on oilseed rape crops. This estimates the area of green leaf in 1m2 of the crop. You can use an app on your phone to do this.

Each unit of GAI is equal to 50kg N/ha in the crop. So if the crop has a GAI of 1, that is 50kg N/ha in the crop’s canopy.

This crop needs about 50kg N/ha in early March and the main split of nitrogen in the middle of March, followed by the last split at early flowering. If the GAI is higher than 1, no nitrogen is needed until the middle of March.


Many of you will be thinking about planting beans soon. They are a great option offering a payment from Government, with some attractive minimum prices available from co-ops and merchants.

March is an ideal time to plant beans, but the most important thing is ground conditions, so don’t rush into fields that are not dry enough to plant yet.

At this year’s National Tillage Conference, the advice was to wait for good conditions before planting bean crops this season to give the crop the best start.

Bean crops should only be planted every five or six years in a field, and farmers should be targeting 25-30 plants/m2 or 40 plants/m2 after the middle of March.

This will affect seeding rate. Growers should talk to their advisers on seeding rates, as thousand grain weights of seed will impact on this as well.

Teagasc commented that while there is very little difference in yield between establishment methods, some methods were favoured at different times of the year.

Strip-till establishment is suited to early-sowing in February and early March. Seed is planted at 4” or more, protecting it from crows. A plough and one-pass system might get later-sown crops off to a quick start.