Management of fertiliser plans and limits is crucial to ensuring that you minimise fertiliser costs and avoid penalties on your single farm payment (SFP).
Next spring's workload will be much higher than normal given very little winter corn has been sown and soil conditions are so wet that ploughing will be delayed.
With less work than normal on most tillage farms, you have no excuse for not doing up your records for 2012 now and preparing your fertiliser plan for 2013.
The fact the winter corn area is down on many farms will mean that farm nitrogen limits, under the regulations, will also be reduced.
In addition, if you have a livestock enterprise and had to increase concentrate feeding in 2012, your phosphorus allowance will also be reduced for 2013. Copies of the regulations may be obtained from the Department of Agriculture or by doing a Google search for SI 610 of 2010.
If you are importing slurry or other organic material, the available nitrogen and total phosphorus content of those materials must be calculated and taken from the farm's limit before the amount of chemical fertiliser can be calculated. This can be a problem unless planned well in advance.
It is very difficult to refuse to take slurry from a neighbour who discovers at the last minute that he is over his limit and asks you to take slurry from him.
You can easily end up exceeding your own limits for this year or eating into next year's allocation. Therefore, plan your slurry imports now.
If you have a neighbour who may want you to take slurry, you should ask him for a commitment now to offer you the slurry before you finalise your plan for 2013. At the very least, agree that he will not knock on your door as the deadline for spreading draws close.
The calculation for a tillage farm in long-term tillage, with no break crop or slurry, is straightforward.
The nitrogen limit, assuming no bonus yield, is 180kg/ha for winter wheat and 135kg/ha for spring barley.
Therefore, if you had 40ha (100ac) of winter wheat in 2012, your nitrogen limit was 7,200kgs (180 x 40), giving you a limit of 26.18t of 27.5pc nitrogen. If you switch to spring barley in 2013, your limit will be reduced to 5,400kg (40 x 135), giving you a limit of 19.6t of 27.5pc nitrogen.
You must keep an eye on your phosphorus limit too. It is determined by your soil phosphorus test results, or, in the absence of soil results, Index 3 for the land which gives a phosphorus allowance of 25kg/ha (no bonus yield).
Therefore, a farm with 40ha of soil in Index 3 for winter or spring cereals will have a phosphorus allocation of 1,000kg, giving a limit of 20t of a 5pc phosphorous product such as 16.5.20.
The nitrogen content of the 16.5.20 will have to be taken from the tonnes of 27.5pc nitrogen specified above, resulting in a limit after 20t of 16.5.20 for winter cereals of 14.5t of 27.5pc nitrogen or 8t for spring barley.
Limits on nitrogen will be lower on farms where fresher land is ploughed or where break crops are part of the rotation. Phosphorus allowances will vary depending on the soil test results.
In relation to records for 2012, it is important to record closing stocks of fertiliser as these become opening stocks for 2013 and will have to be deducted from planned purchases.
Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV).
Monitoring of aphid numbers at 11 locations throughout the country by ITCA members revealed that movement of aphids into crops continued into the last weekend in November, but there has been very little activity since then.
Crops sprayed within the previous two or three weeks should be relatively safe. From now on, data on movement of aphids will play a vital role in deciding whether further insecticide is required.
Patrick J. Phelan is a member of ACA and ITCA and may be contacted at email@example.com