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Friday 9 December 2016

Use chemicals in the year they are bought or return them to your merchant

Tillage

PJ Phelan

Published 14/12/2011 | 06:00

Recent rain and harsh winds have made crop inspections very difficult. Waterlogging in compacted and low-lying fields has resulted in winter barley plant kill.

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Indeed, some of the less vigorous winter wheats are also suffering. The variety that appears to thrive in these conditions is Invicta, which looks considerably better than others sown somewhat earlier under better conditions.

However, despite good yields, Invicta failed to make it in the Irish recommended list trials due to poor kph and is unlikely to be revived -- but it is on the British Home Grown Cereals Authority's (HGCA) recommended list.

All field operations are at a standstill, with the exception of some slug pellet application by ATV on late-sown crops. Many winter barleys are showing symptoms of damage from IPU in areas subject to wheeling and are under more serious pressure due to waterlodging.

In a previous issue, I outlined some of the problems associated with high conacre prices and the risk of landowners being offered excessive prices and then not getting paid.

Many agricultural contractors are experiencing a similar problem in not getting paid for hire work, with a different contractor being employed the following year, leaving the first contractor out in the cold.

This is an issue that can only be addressed by contractors themselves, who should agree not to take on work without checking with the previous contractor first to find if there is money outstanding.

Other professionals contact each other before taking over work, so why don't agricultural contractors do the same?

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Businesses cannot survive the current high costs of machinery replacement, fuel and repairs if they are not paid. Taking work where the previous contractor was not paid will leave the new contractor at an increased risk of not getting paid in the future.

Inspections by local authority, Bord Bia and Department of Agriculture officials appear to have increased recently, and the requirement to have paperwork in order has become most critical.

An estimate of fertiliser requirements and records of applications are now a must.

And now is the time to finalise records for the past year and put your fertiliser plan in place for 2012.

All pesticide applications must be recorded and there are serious issues with having pesticides for which approval has been withdrawn.

The Department of Agriculture's website (www.pcs.agriculture.gov.ie) will give you the approval status for all products. Unapproved products must be disposed of by an approved environmental management company such as Indaver, Veolia, Enva or Rilta. The cost of disposal is not as high as might be expected, in view of the fact that such chemicals must be put in an approved container, be the subject of a local authority waste transfer form and collected and stored while awaiting export abroad for incineration in an approved facility.

I received a price from one company of €90 plus VAT for the controlled disposal of 1kg of pesticide and €110 for 20kg. This is a relatively small price to pay for proper disposal rather than taking the risk of causing damage by unapproved dumping.

From now on, make sure that every chemical you purchase is either used in the year of purchase or returned to the merchant in good time.

Requests for health and safety assessments are a standard part of Bord Bia inspections. However, it is probably one of the most important things that every farmer should do. Farmers with three or less employees can use the template on the health and safety website at www.farmsafely.com. Spend time filling it in and do it properly as you may well save a life or limb.

Finally, I see that next year's Bioenergy Scheme for willow and miscanthus has been announced.

The closing date for applications is January 18, so you should get details as soon as possible to study over the Christmas period.

Patrick J. Phelan is a member of the Irish Tillage Consultants Association and can be contacted at pj.phelan@itca.ie

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