Farm Ireland

Monday 16 July 2018

Getting a handle on fungicides

Proper application should ensure you get value for money from your fungicides.
Proper application should ensure you get value for money from your fungicides.

Costs continue to be an issue on all farms and, when it comes to fungicides, farmers tend to get more exercised about the cost of fungicides than any other expense.

This is probably because it is the last money spent on the crop. There is no doubt fungicide costs have risen quite substantially (€/ha basis) over the past 10 years.

Although the cost per unit of fungicide has not increased substantially, the overall costs have risen due to higher rates to combat increased disease insensitivity. Farmers view fungicides as necessary insurance and, as most of the money is already spent, they are usually willing to go the extra mile to make sure the fungicide gets the most yield from the crop. The question is, can the fungicide costs be reduced?

While there is some room for manoeuvre on costs, it is not always easy to trim these costs.

This is due to our unpredictable weather so it is prudent to plan for an increased fungicide rate, just in case.

However, knowing what disease you want to control and being able to identify it helps in the selection of the correct fungicide and making sure you only purchase what you need.

In the main table on page eight you can see there is a huge range of different fungicides available. Sometimes it is often best to go for single actives rather than premixes as this can give you more flexibility when applying products in different circumstances.

That being said, premixes can sometimes represent good value for money. There are a number of ways where it may be possible to decrease the fungicide spend or increase fungicide return on your farm.

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Here are a few examples:

Ensure you are familiar with the disease profile of each variety you are growing. This will allow you to target different fungicide programmes for different varieties allowing savings on cleaner varieties;

Plan ahead. Is it possible to assemble the core products for the entire season before the first application commences? This allows comparisons of prices and ensures you have ample stocks when you need them. Having base products allows increasing/decreasing rates and mixing products for the changing disease threat;

Insure your sprayer is working correctly by checking the water output of each nozzle and also insure you're applying the volume of water you want. When spraying, ensure the boom is no more than a half a metre above the crop canopy to get best coverage;

Careful selection of fungicides is required. Keep an eye on the generic fungicides. Choosing these can lead to savings although sometimes the differences may be smaller than you would like. None the less challenge your merchant to offer alternatives;

It may be difficult to save money in the purchase of fungicides but the correct application can ensure you get better value for money. For instance, the correct timing for the first fungicide in winter wheat will target the first main fungicide at third last leaf fully out.

Applying the fungicide too early will give poor return for money and will probably force an additional fungicide application. Similarly in barley the final application should be targeted at awns peeping rather than the head fully out to get the best value for the money spent.

Indo Farming