First report on the cover crop try-out

The try-out has been in exactly a month now and you can really start to see the differences as you look across it. The first plot is Kings EFA Cheap Mix which seems to be largely mustard based, sown at 22kg/ha.

Kings EFA cheap mix cover crops

The second plot is Kings long-term cover mix sown at 25kg/ha and is currently providing modest cover.

Kings long-term cover mix

The third plot is DSV terralife betamaxx sown at 30-35kg/ha which is a mixture of clover, radish, pea, phacelia, niger, oat and vetch, again cover is currently modest.

DSV Terralife betamaxx

The fourth plot is Kings Oil Radish sown at 20kg/ha. It’s giving great ground cover already – equal to the control surrounding the try-out.

Kings oil radish

The fifth plot is DSV terralife rigol sown at 20-22kg/ha. It contains radish, oat, sunflower, clover, phacelia, linseed, buckwheat, flax and serradella. This currently has the lowest amount of ground cover but there’s a long way to go yet!

DSV terralife rigol

The sixth plot is DSV terralife biomax which contains the same species as plot 5 with the addition of some mustard. This mix was drilled at 20-25kg/ha.

DSV terralife biomax

The final picture is of the control surround – a Kings mustard sown at 14kg/ha.

Kings mustard

This has been our standard green manure used on the farm since 2010. We have been impressed with what is has delivered for our soil structure, organic matter, crop nutrition and black-grass control so far and every year we have increased the area so I’m excited to see what these  more complex mixes can offer us.

We were the ‘hot’ of the hotspot for flea beetle last year and this year they have still been extremely active so what you see in the pictures has had massive exposure to flea beetle and stood up to it very well. We have not given the try-out any slug pellets, insecticides or herbicides – we are treating it exactly as we would one of our own green manures. The field was vaderstad carrier-ed once, before drilling with a vaderstad disc drill. The previous wheat straw was chopped.

The try-out will continue to grow on and we hope it will hang on to be grazed by our Romneys in late Jan / Early Feb. I will keep you updated…



Jo Franklin is a partner in her family farm and grows approximately 970ha of combinable crops just to the west of Royston, Hertfordshire. Jo also has 230ha of grassland for 1,000 New Zealand Romney ewes and runs a 400ha mixed arable and cattle unit in Hampshire. Jo has a keen interest in soil and crop health, and uses a number of precision farming techniques to ensure accuracy of application. She is currently developing a commercial grain storage facility on-farm. Financial viability and pushing yields are her other main interests.