Drilling winter wheat into an oilseed rape cover crop with the SeedHawk drill
Just found this lurking on the iPad from last autumn; drilling wheat into the oilseed rape volunteers. I’ve added a still picture of the emerged crop.
After some extensive mods from Suffolk Agri and Amazone finally getting a much better result on the drill in that the coulters are penitrating now. This is on first year no-tilled ground which is always tricky and into an overwintered mustard cover crop. Not sure if the mustard was ideal for this as the ground took a long time to dry out after the cover crop was sprayed off in Febuary and there seems to be not much natural tilth in the top……just hard actually but its a reasonable job and hopefully will be okay. We have some better ideas for next years cover crops in this situation.
During the busy harvest period grain is bulk loaded off the fields using a 30 tonne capacity grain chaser either to the tractor and trailer and taken back to store or to the 44 tonne lorry for delivery.
Drilling mustard, buckwheat and phacelia into stubble August 2014; as it turned out the buckwheat and phacelia were a waste and came to nothing, too expensive. Mustard came well.
We currently lift and supply around 12,000 tons of sugar beet to the Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory. We view beet as a very important profit centre providing a stable and predicable income. With cereal prices subject to seemingly uncontrollable market fluctuations beet, even in a situation where prices are down as sugar stocks have risen, is still an attractive crop to grow.
Yields have risen over the years and with larger quotas in the hands of fewer producers we have been keen to work closely with British Sugar to ensure that we are seen as a committed grower group. In a year when most producers have cut back Griffin has increased its tonnage considerably.
Different ways of growing the crop are being implemented and explored and ploughing now plays a minor role in our preparation of beet seedbeds. Shallower cultivations have reduced soil damage and enabled subsequent crops to the established in a much improved way. Strip tillage and cover crops are being seriously considered as these practises have been used with some success in French beet production and in the UK with potato crops where incorporated mustard and other cover crop mixes have been very successful.
We currently do all our drilling by a dedicated RTK machine which is also equipped with a Garford inter row steerage hoe (using camera guidance) for either band spraying or inter-row weed control.
After the rape harvest the stubbles were left untouched to green up with volunteer oilseed rape plants; any bare patches were direct drilled with rape seed from the barn at a high seed rape to make sure that there was full coverage of the soil. A small amount of nitrogen was applied before the start of the NVZ closed period to ensure that the cover was as dense and full as possible. The aim was to outcompete any grass weeds and remove surface compaction (using the root mass of the cover crop) while capturing carbon. It was also important to ensure as much moisture was transpired out of the ground as possible since the two normal means of drying the ground out, cultivations and vaporisation of water from the soil surface, were not going to happen with a thick cover crop layer or mat.
Drilling started on Sept 18th after about 10mm of rain, we could have gone earlier however we were unsure how successful the black grass suppression had been.
As there was almost no black grass at all an earlier start would have been possible. The cover crop was sprayed off the previous day as we were keen not to have dead or dying plant material plugging the drill. The cover crop flowed through the drill well and there was a good seedbed. The crop was rolled two days latter and a pre-emergence spray used at 1/2 rate.
The tap roots of the cover crop had grown through almost all of the wheeling’s, this example came from within a tramline. Slug pressure was negligible as the slugs concentrated on the volunteer rape plants and the emerging wheat came through almost totally unaffected.
The emerged crop looked very good. This was the fourth no-tilled crop on this block and the establishment has become easier each year as the soil structure and surface tilth has improved dramatically. A block which was almost un-farmable four years ago due to black grass pressure is now performing well and is out yielding the conventional min-tilled land at a far lower growing and establishment cost.
Here are some views of the crop taken Oct-14
I’m looking forward to updating this as this as the season progresses !