Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Swallows' arrival signals busy time for both machinery and the farmer

Helen Harris has seen the swallows arriving.
Helen Harris has seen the swallows arriving.
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

I love to see the swallows arriving. At the moment, they are as busy around the yard as we are. Every machine is out and working. Some not working as well as others.

Looking to get repairs done at the same time as the rest of the country puts the machinery suppliers under real pressure. We had such a wet start to the year and very little could get done on the land until this month.

Then, when something small goes wrong it's very frustrating to have machinery not working during the fine weather. Years ago, we could pull out the tool box and get a spare part. We would be up and going in no time.

Nowadays, it's all electronics and software issues. We need to upgrade something and download something else.

A cable is not talking to the control box, whatever that means. I was talking to both and I had a few choice words for them.

The winter barley had previously got 10.7.24, with 3pc sulphur at four bags per acre. We then went out with three bags of 27pc nitrogen. It has really come on and has a fabulous deep green colour.

However, when we looked closer, we noticed small lesions on the leaves and disease was starting to break in the crop. We sprayed with proline at 0.6l per ha, modem at 0.4l per ha and ceraide at 1.25l per ha. To control the wild oats, we also used Avena at .25l per ha and enhancer as a sticker.

The winter wheat had also got four bags of 10.7.24 with 3pc sulphur per acre followed with three bags of 27pc nitrogen. The fields closest to the house are that little bit drier and we decided to change the way we went with fertiliser this year.

Also Read

On the wetter fields, we will only go with three splits of fertiliser and on the dryer we will go with four. This is to cut down the number of times we are running up and down the same wet tramlines. We will see if there was any difference.

The oilseed rape is in flower and the pollen beetle is now a good thing as they help with the germination. It has 162 units of nitrogen on it compared to last year's crop which got 200 units.


If the crop doesn't need the extra, we will try and keep the costs down. We also used Caramba at 0.8l per ha and a second spray of Boron (Bortrac) at 1l per ha. Although Troy is a semi dwarf variety, there are some taller plants.

I have been told by Martin Bourke in Teagasc that these taller plants are rogue male plants. The smaller, more uniform plants are female.

When it comes to making decisions on the crop as a whole, especially spraying off for desiccating, we should ignore the tall males and only judge the main crop. If you wait for all the tall plants to ripen, it is gone too far for the rest of the crop.

I was very honoured to be asked to help judge the Irish Independent Farmer Of The Year competition in the tillage section. The finalists are: Mark and Garrett Browne, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford; Jason Fleming, Avoca, Co Wicklow and Kevin Nolan, Bennekerry, Co Carlow. We visited the farms and spoke to the farmers.

The standard was exceptionally high and I knew that the final decision would be very difficult. One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that, although their enterprises were very different, they also had so much in common.

I would describe all of them as hard working, innovative, technical and very positive. I felt the real winner was the tillage sector. They are an example to us all as to how it can and should be done. They will just have to wait until May 9 for the winner to be announced.

  • Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Twitter @kildarefarmer.

Indo Farming