Adopting and managing technology to keep us safe
It now appears that the major portion of spring sowing will be done over the Easter period. The upside is that the timing should coincide with a plentiful supply of extra help, with both school holidays and a long weekend for the part-timers providing some options.
However, it does bring extra safety concerns, given that most of the extra staff will be enthusiastic, but lacking in experience.
All workers must be briefed on safety issues. Be sure that everyone operating machinery is capable of doing so and that they are aware of the risks. The risk of mobile phones is well recognised for road users. However, they present a similar risk of farm operators, especially if they are working in tandem with other operators.
The temptation to ignore the risks posed by phones is heightened by the fact that they are frequently used to synchronise operations.
At the very least operators should confine phone use to the task in hand and stop activities while using the phone.
This year a novel unit has been launched by C First. It is called Traffi-Cam, which is a retractable camera that can be mounted on front-mounted equipment such as weights or furrow presses.
The idea is that it allows the driver to see both left and right before entering roads from areas with a restricted visibility. Check them out online for more.
Winter crops are making good progress. Most wheat this year has reasonably good disease resistance characteristics. However, Lion has a low score on rust. Cordiale is poor on septoria (4) while Einstein, Grafton and Kingdom are only marginally better at 5.
The reduced efficacy of the triazoles against septoria is going to put a lot of pressure on SDHIs and every grower will have to decide on an appropriate strategy to manage fungicide cost.
The trick is to implement an anti-resistance strategy while still achieving an economic yield. A T0 consisting of chlorothanonil and perhaps a reduced rate of SDHI will be justified on some crops. Eyespot is widespread, but risk should be assessed on a field by field basis.
The most vulnerable site is an early sown one on ploughed heavy land cropped with cereals last year. Fungicides containing boscalid and a triazole or prothioconazole should be used at T1, when the third leaf is fully emerged.
Winter barley is generally at growth stage (GS) 30 and ranges from GS 23-29. Volume has a huge number of tillers and looks to have great potential. However, it will have to be managed carefully.
Apply Moddus at 0.2 l/ha and CCC at 1l/ha at GS 30-31. It should also receive 50pc of its nitrogen at that stage. Bontima may suit the T1 fungicide on Volume.
T1 on other varieties of winter barley might consist of Proline with a reduced rate of strobiluron, morpholine or chlorothanonil.
Winter oats had fantastic germination last autumn resulting in high plant stands and few if any tillers. Cer-Aide has been the preferred growth regulator with many growers for oats.
This year the maximum individual dose is 1.4l/ha, with one application allowed. If you are using a split dose, you can use 1.15l/ha twice. This emphasises the need to read new labels carefully and not to rely on repeating last year's product rates.
Wild oats are continuing to emerge in winter crops. Wait a little longer and, when you think that all have emerged, spray with one of the recommended products.
Pinaxxoden (Axial, Croplink Avena, Farmco Axis, Rescue, Rogue and Traxos) dominate the market for wild oat control. Fenoxaprop P Ethyl, sold as Cheeth Extra, Foxtrot or Farmco Wild Oats, is the main alternative.
Cheeta is only recommended on wheat. Both Foxtrot and Farmco Wild Oats are recommended on wheat and barley.
The other alternative is Broadway Star which is recommended on winter wheat only. It covers a wide range of grass weeds including sterile brome, ryegrass and meadowgrass, but not annual meadowgrass. It should be mixed with Torpedo if latter weed is an issue.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
All users of pesticides are required to have a simple checklist outlining the components of IPM that they are implementing on their farm. Most farmers will complete the checklist within 10 minutes.
It should be available on the farm in the event of an inspection. Like all other documents, the Department have greater regard for a document that is available on the day of inspection and are less likely to need to start digging deeper.
Complete it now if you have not already done so.
Patrick J. Phelan is a member of ACA and ITCA based in Tipperary
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