2014-07-30   facebook twitter rss

All is safely gathered in........

And, as that well-known hymn goes on to say, ‘...... free from sorrow’ as well, with the good weather and perfect harvesting conditions enabling NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) to combine this year’s trials at P & C Dooks’ Woolthwaithe Farm, Tickhill without too much trouble.

Now in their 5th year, and having gone through a complete crop rotation of two wheats, a barley, beans and OSR, the four cultivation systems followed by three drilling systems format has produced a reliable comparison of yield versus input costs. The oil seed rape yields this year again have shown that the min-tilled plots, including the very shallow cultivated plots have performed exceptionally well. Even without any pre-loosening, the 8cm deep stubble worked plots produced the second best yields, at around 4.5% higher than the plough-based plots which were, on average, the lowest yielding.

Shallow cultivated plots with the Catros yield well in the 2014 trials results

Shallow cultivated plots with the Catros yield well in the 2014 trials results

With in excess of 800 ha of trials across the world, Amazone are constantly striving to evaluate how the depth and intensity of both drilling and cultivation affects both yield and input costs. The five years of results at the British trials site would suggest that the highest average yields, yet at minimal input cost, come from the 15cm deep cultivation regime. Drilling intensity seems to have little influence on yield, but again this has a significant impact on cost; the differential between the diesel costs of a drill combination as oppose to a tine seeder would be around £10/ha.

Any changes or improvements in soil structure after the adoption of a long term cultivation strategy should also now be evident. As to be expected, penetrometer readings taken at the site 18 months ago on our behalf by NIAB TAG have shown an increasing soil firmness as the cultivation intensity is reduced but this does not seem to have an effect on yield.

The long term aim at this site in 2015 is to look at nutrient values and soil organic matter content across the four cultivation systems as well as earth worm populations.

Next year will see the plots go back into a first wheat and the cultivation process has already started with a pass over with the Catros compact disc harrow at 5-6cm deep to encourage the volunteers and weed seeds to grow. Done at 30 degrees to the tramlines, the incorporation of the straw residues along with the top couple of inches of top soil will start the rotting process as well as greening up the stale seedbed ready for a quick zap with the glyphosate. It is imperative that this first pass is kept close up behind the combine to maximise soil moist levels and give us the longest window possible between harvest and drilling.


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