Drilling update from Driffield Monitor Farm
We have now finished all land work for autumn 2015 – we’ve only got hedge trimming and delivering wheat to keep us busy up to Christmas.
We had our first Monitor Farm meeting of the year on 5 November, which was very well attended. People had come to hear soil expert Philip Wright talk about our soils and the effects of our autumn cultivations, which for the first time included direct drilling. It was rather wet underneath when we drilled our worst black-grass field with second wheat Belepi: we really needed a good windy drying day to help dry the headlands. As I walked the crop this afternoon I noticed a little surface pounding on the headlands which I think will reduce germination.
On the open day we also had a look at our cover crop trials which are starting to cover the ground, although they were sown rather late, in the second week of September after winter wheat. First wheats were very late maturing in this area and we had not sprayed any wheat with glyphosate to aid harvest. When we did finally get the crop off we had a week of wet weather stopping all cultivations.
When the top finally dried we ripped up the surface to mix in the chopped straw and allow the land to dry out ready for drilling. I then drilled straight into the surface and then left it to dry, before rolling to firm the seedbed.
We had a good germination as there was sufficient moisture and warmth left in the soil. The first crop was a mustard/kale hybrid which has been slow to establish, followed by smash mustard which is very vigorous and has established very well.
Then we planted the radish, followed by black oats and vetch, and finally we drilled the rest of the field and headlands with rye and vetch, both at 20 kg per hectare, which I feel now was a little low due to the late sowing date.
This year we have drilled our winter beans. As the wheat stubble was so wet, we decided to plough it rather than leaving it to plough the beans in later. Because it was wet the ploughing dried out in solid lumps which we then had to power harrow, as the drill would not make a seedbed on the solid ploughing.
This was now 14 days ago and we have had rain and fog all the time until yesterday when it finally started to dry. I hope we can get the pre-em on in the morning before more rain, as the beans are about to emerge and I think this will be our last chance.