‘Why I’m reducing my winter barley acreage and planting more summer beans’

The 2022 harvest will be unforgettable on my farm for all the right reasons.

The yield performance of all crops exceeded my expectations and the weather was perfect throughout the harvest season.

The prolonged dry spells during the growing season were a concern, but the rains seemed to be timely for my crops and didn’t negatively impact yield.

The yield of my spring bean crop was lower than in the past but still a respectable 2.2 t/ac. The soil type on my farm is free-draining and beans can fight for moisture, especially during the sustained high temperatures we experienced in August.

After harvesting my grain crops, I sowed cover crops on most of the fields – mainly the mix of fodder rape and leaf beets. I find this mix very cost effective and has worked very well for me over the last 6-7 years.

I also tested some new cover crops as part of a signpost program demo being run on the farm. Various species have been drilled including field radish, mustard, vetch, phacelia and clover.

It will be interesting to see how these species behave and what N uptake they will each give.

Now that the harvest season is over, the focus shifts to 2023 and planning which crops to seed. The growth year of 2023 will probably be the most challenging I’ve had given the cost of the inputs.

I intend to reduce my winter barley acreage and increase my summer bean acreage. The main reason for this is that the cost of production of beans has not increased as much as that of other crops; combined with the additional payment for the protein program starting next year, they will most likely be the highest margin crop I can produce next year.

I’ve been looking for ways to reduce my overall fertilizer costs; I started by looking at my recent soil samples. The farm is low in Phosphorus (P) and it is difficult to build P on our soil type, so there is no real savings in P application that I can make without affecting crop yield.

However, the potassium (K) levels in my soil are excellent, with almost every field in the index 4. I know from experience that the K level can change quickly here, so I have to be careful, but I think there is a big one Chance to reduce my K total gift and use some of the reserves I’ve built up in the ground.

John Crowley farms in Ferns, Co. Wexford. His advisors are Ciaran Hickey, Mark Plunkett and Eoin Lyons

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/tillage/why-im-reducing-my-area-of-winter-barley-and-planting-more-spring-beans-42025837.html ‘Why I’m reducing my winter barley acreage and planting more summer beans’

Fry Electronics Team

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