Kicking off on August 12th and closing on the 24th our Winter Wheat harvest has seen another year that we’ve hit the 12t/ha mark. Employing the services of an extra 18t trailer meant with Martin on the combine I was kept busy carting between fields and struggling to keep up too!
In addition to our standard Wheat fields we harvested our one-hectare trial plots and our glyphosate free trial field. The Glyphosate free field went on to yield 11.5t/ha which we were pleased with. Using a stale seedbed and an application of Diquat, the crop has been clean throughout the growing season with only an hour spent hand rogueing the odd blackgrass plant.
We’ll be including the results of all our trials in our Wheat harvest update.
With a reasonably protracted wheat harvest a quick turnaround was required to establish our harvest 2020 crop of oilseed rape. R & T Liming did a fantastic job of being with us as the combine left the field to get our variable rate lime spread, with the drill following in quick succession.
In a last hurrah of summer, the sun shone as the bank holiday weekend was spent sowing OSR. All of our OSR was established sowing inter-row of the previous wheat crop stubble cut to 8 inches, with the remainder of the straw chopped and left on the surface. The thinking behind a taller stubble combined with chopped straw is to help mask the emerging plant at its most vulnerable stage, and when the flea beetle do arrive, their movement will be impeded to an extent.
Whilst not a total solution, this approach I hope will provide a small incremental reduction of the damage. This in conjunction with the Mzuri one pass system which accurately places the seeds into a nursery seedbed, retaining moisture, and reconsolidating whilst placing fertiliser and slug pellets, that get to work immediately will give our crop the best fighting chance.
As part of our experimental approach we utilise the two different row widths offered by the Mzuri Pro-Till at 330mm and 660mm centres and sow using the dual shoot coulter. We have conventional and hybrid plots using both configurations, helping to build a year on year understanding as each season offers up something different.
We’ve also sown a 10ha field which contains a total of eight different varieties. My skills of cleaning down and calibration were quite impressive by the end, and all done in the blazing heat – I certainly felt like I’d earnt a cold beer that evening! Each variety majors on different traits, so it should hopefully provide interesting comparisons to share as the season progresses.
Our spring cropping of beans and wheat seem to be on the change in unison as harvest draws near. As the beans defoliate both plant numbers and pod set look to be good, whilst the spring wheat remains standing despite heavy ears and 2 inches of rain in a matter of days, with wind thrown in for good measure!
Cover crop sowing
This year we’ve made changes to our cover crop mixture, which had previously been based upon tillage and fodder radish. In part, this change has been buoyed by the success of last year’s experiment of oats into volunteer OSR as a grazing mixture. I’ve been keen to add a greater number of species, for both diversity as part of the wider rotation but also for how they interact with the soil. The new mixture comprises of oats, vetch, phacelia and sunflowers, sown at 47kg/ha.
Drilling began on the 21st, with soil moisture replenished just ahead of drilling and then retained with the single pass of the Mzuri Pro-Til. The crop was quick to emerge, particularly the phacelia which was up in a matter of days, with the rest of the species following shortly behind. Sitting just below the seed, DAP was band placed at 120kg/ha via the Mzuri Pro-Til’s leading leg – this ensures that early nutrition is readily available to maximise biomass whilst soil temperatures and day length support growth.