Crop establishment try-out: part 1

We provided an 18 hectare field of spring bean stubble at Parklands Farm for our crop establishment try out as part of our Monitor Farm work. Over the course of seven dry days (10 to 17 October 2017) we saw six very different drills. The brief to the manufacturer, dealer or fellow farmer was:

  • Drill Crusoe winter wheat at 200 kg/ha direct into uncultivated bean stubble
  • Ideal depth of seed is 40 mm
  • We will not be rolling this field but we will monitor for slugs and apply ferric phosphate if necessary

It was totally fascinating to see the different approaches for the same aim. From the very simplest drill that just required three point linkage (no PTO, no hydraulics, no electrics), to the more sophisticated arrangements with an unbelievable array of screens in the tractor cab. Some drills were easier to calibrate and set up than others, some were simpler to empty the unused seed from.

We will reveal all our findings in our first winter Monitor Farm meeting on 10 November 2017 and give you the opportunity to come and look at the plots for yourself.

Find out more about the Chelmsford Monitor Farm


Christy Willett

Christy Willett

Christy and Hew Willett farm at Parklands Farm in Galleywood on the fringe of Chelmsford, Essex. This mother-and-son team farm in partnership across 475 ha of arable cropping, with a mixture of owned and rented land. Their rotation is typically two wheats followed by spring beans/OSR, although this has become more flexible since 2012 to include spring barley and spring oats, based on the condition of each field. The farm has recently moved to a strip-till system and is focussed on the significant challenge of grass weed management, including black-grass and ryegrass. Most of their wheat is destined for local millers. The farm has diversified into horse liveries, as well as office and industrial lets. Christy and Hew see their greatest challenge as keeping their cost of production as low as possible without sacrificing yield. They are keen to use benchmarking, on-farm trials and discussions from the Monitor Farm programme to improve and develop their farm business in these critical years for the industry.

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