Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Reck on Ireland floods

Philip Reck manages 900ha (2224 acres) of light to medium loams within 20 miles of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Ireland. Cropping is cereals and oilseed rape, all min-till established

Irish agriculture has been taking a pounding from all quarters. Now things are even worse, with parts of the south and west reeling from some of the worst floods in living memory.

Fodder supplies were tight enough after the poor summer. Many farmyards were flooded and the increased costs of sourcing the lost fodder will place more strain on farm incomes.

Many thousands of acres are under water. Farms and businesses will need a respite from this unsettled weather, to allow flood waters to recede and the water table to drop so land can drain freely.

Here in the south east we fared better; flash floods cleared after a day. But farmers are finding that later-sown winter cereals have come under increased pressure from the unwanted water, with some crops lost.

Luckily, I managed to get herbicide and aphicide onto winter oats and wheat before the weather broke. These crops will need a second aphicide as soon as ground conditions improve enough to prevent rutted tramlines, the bane of any sprayer operator during the spring.

The large spring crop acreage has reduced my autumn workload, so I have taken advantage of this to take soil samples of all the land for nutrients, lime, trace elements and organic matter.

The latter forms part of the single farm payment system. Any land in continuous tillage for the past six years must have organic matter levels above 3.4%. If this is not the case, remedial action must be taken. The land has now been min-tilled for 10 years. Straw incorporation has helped improve structure and texture of the soil and this should be reflected in the organic matter results.

Ireland it seems will not feature in next year’s World Cup, Thierry Henry using profound hand-to-eye co-ordination put paid to any hopes we had of making it to South Africa. FIFA’s fair play motto is redundant it seems. The bigger teams are more important than the small ones.

More information from other Farmer Focus writers
More columns from Philip Reck

See more