The weekend previous saw winds switch to the East which was ideal for drying the topsoil enabling great travelling conditions. Using the Mzuri Pro-Til’s double shoot coulters at 33cm centres, we struck a good balance between good seed depth and the tilth necessary for excellent seed to soil contact. Bare a brief stint at the beginning February, I have to say it felt good to back drilling with the sun shining!
The beans were sown in the last week of March at 310kg/ha to give an established stand of 50 plants/m2. Whilst the seed rate is reasonably high, we definitely found this to be an advantage last season, both in achieving the target establishment, but also ensuring the stand created such a canopy that closes out any later flush of weeds that the herbicide was too late to catch. I also feel the higher end of this population has the effect of plants competing to a degree with each other for light, lending itself to improved podding from top to bottom of a taller plant.
Lending itself to seedbed fertiliser, 0-24-24 was applied with the Pro-Til at 100kg/ha. A relatively small application but enough to meet the crops needs especially as its band placed and made readily available. In reality, the beans bring many more benefits to the soil than they require nutritionally, altogether making them a satisfying break crop to have in the rotation.
The majority of our spring bean crop was sown into cover crops that had been grazed and then sprayed off ahead of sowing. I was keen to try something different this year and with the cover crop beginning to grow away thanks to the rising soil temperatures, I held back from spraying a field and went in with the drill on the green. With the living roots binding the soil, soil disturbance was further minimised, proving it to be an interesting experiment.
The limited amount of surface tilth was no issue for the bean seed which was placed consistently at two inches into moisture and then sealed in place, within tilth with the Mzuri’s press wheel. The only hiccup to occur was my timing to go Cambridge rolling the field. As early evening turned to dusk my eyes strained to find my mark in the sea of green, and as much as I enjoy driving a simple tractor, GPS was sorely missed that evening.