Year end

As we approach year end we can look back on what was generally a good year. The recent frozen conditions were seasonal and this is a good thing.

There is an amount of ploughing now taking place and some land was in quite good condition up to this week. Many of the main tillage areas are 60-100mm below their 30-year average rainfall as we head into Christmas.

Land is still solid, and with air temperatures back up again there may be an opportunity to get some essential spraying done.

But the soil is now quite cold and aphids that migrated down in recent weeks may not yet have received the signal that it is safe to come back up again. So there may still be some questions over aphicide efficacy just now.

The recent spell of cold weather must be more of an advantage than any potential disadvantage. Seasons are important and it is always useful to get the winter in the winter, at whichever end.

Essential farm records

With a few weeks of relative quiet ahead, it is important to catch up on essential paperwork and to work out a plan for the high production costs that we may have to face in 2023.

The obligatory jobs include getting your pesticide use records up-to-date and your fertiliser records completed for 2022 and 2023 so as to get your nutrient plan in place for the year ahead.

This exercise will help sharpen the focus on N, P and K purchases for 2023.

Your farm allowance gives the maximum amount of N and P that can be legally applied in a year. Subtract any organic N or P applied, or to be applied, to current crops from your maximum N and P allowance to calculate the maximum artificial N and P you are allowed to apply.

Given current prices, one might realistically be using less than maximum rates next year given where grain prices are currently.

All farmers are obliged to have a record of all chemical stocks and purchases for each year, plus a record of where each product was used on a field-by-field and crop-by-crop basis.

For example, if you purchased 120L of a fungicide for a single spray on 100ha and you had 5L in stock from last season, an application rate of 1.25 l/ha would mean no stock remaining.

But if you had 8L left over, the application rate would be 1.17 l/ha.

One other essential job to consider is to respond to the DAFM consultation on the new pesticide regulation proposals (more details last week).

Discussion groups might consider a single group response outlining the implications of the different elements of the proposal to their businesses.

Straw and protein payments

Payments for the protein aid scheme and the straw incorporation measure were made to growers over the past week or so. If you qualify for either or both schemes, check your bank account to see if the payments have landed.

Best wishes

Siobhán and I would like to wish all our regular and occasional readers a happy, healthy, peaceful and safe Christmas.