Farmer Focus: Philip Reck finds himself bedevilled by bureaucracy

Four weeks of uncharacteristically dry weather over Christmas and the New Year was a welcome relief from the incessant rain of 2008.

A summer rainfall report by Met Eireann, our national metrological service, made interesting reading.

In the summer alone we received 520mm of rain in Wexford – 60 days of rain in three months. Considering our annual rainfall is around 800mm it’s hard to believe most of it fell in the months you would expect to be dry.

Our area received 40% more rainfall than normal, and it was certainly noticeable.

The dry frosty weather of this New Year was quickly forgotten when four inches of rain fell in one week, and more is forecast for the rest of January. The local sentiment is that ‘it’s better now than in the spring when you want it dry’. I hope that comes true.

The swift return of wet weather coincided with the lifting on the restrictions on ploughing and spreading slurry.

Many farmers were left scratching their heads. Earlier on, stubbles were dry enough to plough and night frosts would have helped to break the soil down nicely. But bureaucracy prevented them. Now, after heavy rainfall the land is saturated again.

Many growers will have to plough in less than ideal conditions for the spring workload. It was apparent to every farmer in Ireland this month that farming by the calendar makes no sense whatever.

We have a large area of spring crops to sow as soon as the land becomes dry enough. They will be direct-drilled into autumn cultivated land left to green up over the winter and sprayed off with Roundup Gold (glyphosate).

The varieties will include Barra oats. Our barley choices are Prestige, Frontier and Snakebite, and we’ll have some oilseed rape to keep our rotation in order.


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