It's time to replenish land after last year's cutbacks
Published 01/03/2011 | 05:00
This time last year, Liffey Mills gave a badly needed reassurance to farmers by offering €100/t for barley. We waited eagerly for other merchants to follow. Some farmers decided to leave land fallow.
This year, full of optimism, land is making "mad" money, in some instances, guaranteeing that the improved grain price will not be converted into profit for tillage farmers.
Is there a 'feel-good' factor to paying the highest price in the area that keeps those guys going? If renting, then do your costings, including increased fertiliser and fuel prices.
Remember also that most land has been depleted of nutrients over the past two years due to a combination of reduced fertiliser rates and that very little straw was returned. A 10t/ha crop of wheat or barley will have removed 38kg of P and 98kg of K.
Land which has only received 375kg/ha (3 bags/ac) of 18:6:12 each year for the past two years will have only received 45kg P and 90kg K -- not enough K for one year's harvest, not to mind two harvests.
Use this year to replenish K on land after the previous year's cutbacks. Soil at index 1 for K requires 160kg K for winter oats; 140kg K for winter wheat, barley/spring oats, 130kg K for spring wheat and 115kg K for spring barley.
This year's crops
Winter wheat and barley crops have generally tillered very well and wheat after rape is looking particularly well. Birds continue to be a problem, particularly on min-till fields. Grass weed control, where necessary, should take place as soon as ground conditions permit.