It’s great to be back in the fields again. Hardly a wheel has turned in the last three months, so there is a world of work to be done.


Half the winter wheat has been sprayed with Othello (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron + diflufenican). It’s expensive but it worked well last year controlling everything, wild oats included, with the exception of cleavers. All emerged crops will soon receive 375kg/h of a 13.5-0-30 NPK blend. Soil analysis shows phosphate levels are sufficient to produce target yields. Broiler litter every third year on a range of spring-sown crops has given us this bonus.

It also seems to be helping our soil organic levels as tests have shown the range is 4.8% to 6.8%. This confirms our soil fertility levels, the basis of economic food production, are being maintained if not improved.

A recent trip to Syngenta’s headquarters at Jealott’s Hill was brilliant. The company’s commitment to research and development was huge and the 20-odd farmers present exchanged ideas and were provided with information that will be a major help to the industry in the future.

The visit also made me realise that blackgrass, a weed not present in Ireland, must be kept out at all costs. The same applies to the range of ales provided by our hosts at a beer-tasting dinner. Guinness has nothing to fear.

My mistake of the winter was forgetting to disconnect the pressure gauge on the sprayer during the winter months and the frost got it. I bought a genuine replacement. Next time I will search the internet for a cheaper alternative as it cost 1.5t of barley.