'Crops would have burned in the fields if we hadn’t installed an irrigation system’
As with most farmers, 2018 has proven a challenging year for organic vegetable grower Vincent Grace.
Difficult weather conditions this year forced Vincent to alter his original cropping plan for Riversfield Farm, located just outside Callan, Co Kilkenny.
Some succession sowings of crops such as beetroot did not occur as the ground was too dry for seeds to germinate. This has led to some yield deficits.
“Conditions became so dry that I installed an irrigation system for field production and it was vital to the survival of crops such as leeks, otherwise they would simply have burned up in the field,” says Vincent.
“Yields have been affected particularly in crops such as potatoes — we grow early and main-crop potatoes. Yields are back almost 50pc as the plants simply did not bulk up in terms of foliage or tuber formation.
“The only advantage of the dry weather was that weed pressure remained low.
“Every year you learn more about vegetable growing but this year was enough to test any grower’s tolerance.”
Vincent started Riversfield Farm in 2013, keen to grow organic vegetables for the local market. He studied horticulture via distance learning at the Organic College in Co Limerick, before becoming certified organic by the Irish Organic Association.