Tillage: It's decision time as spring cereals emerge rapidly
Published 29/04/2015 | 02:30
The growing season is now at full tilt, with a succession of critical growth stages for all crops lining up in an orderly fashion.
For winter cereals, timing for the main split of fertiliser has come and gone. The main growth regulation should be completed or will be very soon. First fungicides applications need to be addressed this week. Winter oilseed rape is assuming its spectacular demonstrations of colour and the new/old kid on the block, beans, is generally emerging well in healthy rows.
Other spring cereals are also rapidly emerging and are vying for attention, demanding imminent decisions to be made on top dressing of fertiliser and also weed and BYDV control. The season so far has been very compliant with slow steady growth resulting in steady development with ample opportunity for applications.
Low disease levels have also generally been the order of the day, but with higher temperatures and high moisture levels, this situation will probably change soon.
The hustle and bustle at this time of the year is a mixed blessing. Some people thrive on it, while some simply dread the thought of the stress, the rapid fire decision making, the potential for error, the cost. Unfortunately, this is par for the course in this job. The crop production season is a sequence of stop/start operations.
However, in the greater scheme of things, crop production should not be the most stressful of occupations in its day-to-day running.
There are exceptions at particular times. Calls from drivers about the "funny noise coming from the back of the tractor", or "I'm running short of seed," or "I've a flat tyre" are sure to cause a lift in blood pressure levels.
These are usually just minor emergencies but the rushing and pressure they provoke means that health and safety can take a back seat in the hurry to get work going again.
Bear that in mind during the busy season. Make sure there is someone who can take charge of breakdown situations and emergencies.
This person must have a cool head, be able to get machines back up and running quickly, while maintaining safety standards as a priority.
They must also take charge if there is an accident or emergency. Be honest with yourself here. If that role is not in your nature, perhaps someone else should be handed the job.
The next time things are getting the better of you, just remember that there are benefits to being a crop producer. The commute is short, and we get to experience the joys of spring first hand while on the factory floor.
We also have to remember in these times that the role of a food producer in society is one of the most basic fundamental roles required for a society to function.
If all the web designers or marketing gurus or stock brokers decided to down tools in the morning, I don't think it would have the same impact as if all the food producers decided to pull pin.
Enjoy the next few weeks, but above all, stay safe.
Dr Richard Hackett is an agronomist based in north Co Dublin and is a member of the ITCA and ACA.