Good establishment is the foundation to a healthy and productive crop. Poor establishment can hinder a crop throughout its life which may never fully recover if given the wrong environment. On the farm we use strip tillage as we feel it gives us the best method of establishment and allows us to grow strong, healthy crops that are quick to get going and yield well.

Over the years we have developed the perfect recipe for even crop establishment.

A recipe for good establishment

  • 150-250mm of standing straw – reduces the risk of erosion and protects soils against capping and shelters young seedlings.
  • Previous crop residue – preserves moisture and encourages worm activity
  • Untilled soil – provides available nutrients, oxygen and water to the seedlings promoting rapid root development and growth.
  • ‘Nursery seedbed’ – Narrow tilled area mineralises nutrients whilst providing good soil-to-seed contact needed for fast germination.
  • Light interception – Wide row spacings allow maximum light interception to promote fast growth and ensures strong straw to support high yielding crops.
  • Accurate seeding depth – Consistently placed seed is vital for even establishment across the whole field.
  • Reconsolidation – Good soil to seed contact is important to promote quick germination.

Establishment starts with the combine

Careful consideration to how the combine is driven can make all the difference when it comes to drilling, with uneven straw residue being detrimental to successful germination. Unnecessary field traffic can also impact establishment and, where possible, we restrict trailers to the headlands to reduce the risk of compaction.

Establishment Equipment

Since adopting the striptill approach, our minimal establishment artillery consists of the Mzuri Pro-Til 3T drill, Mzuri Stubble Rake and a set of Twose rolls.

Mzuri Pro-Til 3T

The drill’s pivoting coulter arm ensures accurate placement of seed in the centre of the lightly tilled zone, meaning crops look even from headland to headland. The drill offers an additional benefit by having the option to place a band of fertiliser underneath the seed to boost germination and get seedlings off to a good start.

Mzuri Stubble Rake

The strong build quality of the Mzuri rake and the front leading disks mean a single pass can easily achieve a fine tilth and accelerated straw decomposition. We use this to produce a stale seedbed by encouraging volunteers and weeds to grow before spraying them off. We have found that the mechanical action of the rake has significantly reduced the slug populations on farm through destroying their habitats which reduced our reliance on slug bait. Following with the rake a second time ensures the best possible germination rates to produce a truly stale seedbed ready for drilling.

Fitted with a Stocks seeder attachment, the harrow has also proven to be a cheap, fast and effective method of broadcasting some crops such as radish and linseed.


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