Looking back on this farming year, our soils have been tested in all manner of ways and I am pleased with just how well they have fared. The importance of our chopped straw residues, stubble management which keep the soil structure intact and cover crops have all benefited both our soils and system – allowing us the flexibility to grow profitable spring crops, rather than compromised winter crops or summer fallows.
Another element of flexibility derived from Pro-Til system, is where over half of the field remaining untouched at sowing, enables the carrying of livestock during the winter without detriment to our topsoil. Sheep have been a fantastic addition to our approach to cover crop residues, which typically require one less application of glyphosate. Importantly, as the aim of our cover crops is to benefit plant and soil health, deploying above ground livestock supports our below ground livestock. By beginning the processing of residues for the bacteria, fungi and worms to continue, they provide readily available nutrients to support new crop, ensuring the link between plant and soil remain strong.
Our long-term trials of winter oilseed rape and wheat produced some good results. And whilst overall yields were down, the information gathered is undoubtably useful to paint a true average of performance for seed rates, row spacing and genetics. The opportunity to do similar trials with our spring cereals was too good to miss. With spring barleys propensity to tiller, the 3 row spacings, each delivered strong results, ideal to be deployed in different scenarios in a commercial setting. The spring wheat inter row legumes offers exciting opportunities for the future and is something I am very much looking forward to building upon.