Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Tillage... Putting the GLAS on tillage farming

Tillage farm located on the shores of the Irish Sea at Salterstown, Co Louth
Tillage farm located on the shores of the Irish Sea at Salterstown, Co Louth
PJ Phelan

PJ Phelan

Work has been a particularly busy over the last few weeks for advisors trying to evaluate the new schemes and determine how they can be optimised to the benefit of their clients.

However, while we have received a draft GLAS specification and guidance on how young farmers and new entrants can avail of the national reserve, we are still getting clarifications.

At the recent Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) spring meeting we were told by the Department of Agriculture that where a parent gives part of his or her own farm to a family member that the division would be deemed to be a scission - the entitlements associated with those lands would therefore have to be transferred with the land.

This was not previously flagged and there are numerous applications by young farmers for herd numbers based on part of their parents' holding.

That is a highly desirable situation given the age profile of Irish farmers, but the application for entitlements on those lands from the National Reserve appears to be in contravention of 'new rules'.

It is too close to the deadline of March 31 for young farmers and new entrants to be informed of such a requirement which appears to be contrary to advice that had been issued up to recently.

New entrants must apply for a herd/reference number before March 31 if they wish to apply to the National Reserve in 2015.

Meanwhile, GLAS is a scheme that will suit most tillage farmers with proposed payments of €1,250/ha for arable margins of 4m; €750/ha for the environmental management of fallow land; €155/ha for catch crops; €4.5/m3 (1000 gals/ac) of low emission slurry application; €40/ha for minimum tillage and €3,000/ha for a 3m riparian margin (you need 3,333m of a 3m margin of watercourse length to give a hectare, but lesser lengths can be applied for).

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There are also a range of other very attractive measures which will suit some farmers.

If you have not already made arrangements with your advisor/consultant to discuss applying for GLAS you should do so now as the April 30 deadline for 2015 is very tight.

Another big hold-up has been with the issuing of maps to tillage farmers to show the location of hedgerows and the calculation of ecological focus areas. The information is available online but it is slow and cumbersome to make adjustments.

The promised paper maps should make adjustments easier and more efficient.

However, all applications by tillage farmers will have to be made online. Don't leave it to the last minute.


Most farmers are now set up to comply with the three-crop rule. Sowing of beans is the third crop for some farmers, where it will also assist in meeting any shortfall in ecological focus area requirements.

Before sowing make sure you have a merchant to purchase them. The deadline for sowing is mid March, with February sowing preferable.

Beans have been sown by many farmers since the mid 1980s, with yields varying from less than one tonne per acre to over three tonnes.

In the early years many growers got caught with sowing too much seed resulting in tall crops, increased disease pressure and reduced yield.

We are now targeting sowing 30 seeds per square meter by sowing 190-220kg/ha, depending on thousand grain weight (written on the bag).

Soils must be moisture retentive as beans will not tolerate moisture deficits in June/July. In common with barley, a soil pH of 6.5-7 is important.

Beans have a high potassium requirement and will suffer if soil zinc levels are low. Seed must be sown at least 7.5cm deep.

Weed control must include a pre-emergence application of Nirvana and/or Lingo.

The seedbed must be clod free for the effective cover of soil by the herbicide and the prevention of weed germination.

This is probably the first mention of pesticide usage in 2015 so it is appropriate to refer to the new Department initiative called STRIPE - Surface Water Tool for Reducing the Impact of Pesticides on the Environment.

Pesticide usage is prohibited adjacent to all channels that carry water at any time of the year.

No pesticide may be sprayed within 1m of the top of the bank of the channel for all spray products; 5m for some products and 10m for others.

STRIPE specifies that where distances of greater than 1m are required that those distances can be reduced if you use low drift nozzles and/or reduced rates of the pesticide.

For the two products mentioned above the appropriate distances are 1m for Lingo and 5m for Nirvana.

Use of a standard nozzle and half rate pesticide would allow the 5m for Nirvana to be reduced to 2.5m.

Use of a 90pc drift reduction nozzle would allow the distance to be reduced to 1m.

PJ Phelan. M.Agr. Sc. is a farm consultant based in Tipperary. He is a member of the ACA and ITCA.


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