Trying direct drilling at Driffield Monitor Farm

I am sat looking out across our second wheat again this time in rare sunshine, but with more rain in the forecast.

We have got all our spring barley drilled, but it is not out yet as soil conditions are so cold  – we are still having slight frosts on a night. Both fields of barley went in well. We drilled the ploughing with our own cultivator drill after just harrowing the headland level. There was only one soft spot which I got through without sinking but I did see two or three patches of black-grass which I marked so I can return and deal with it using our hand-held sprayer.

Both fields were rolled in and sprayed with flufenacet/pendimethalin pre-emergence.

We had a demonstration with a Sumo DD drill, which we used in the other field after our cover crop trials. In my opinion the black oat and vetch drilled the best –  it was more friable on the surface, and the radish was the worst, being wetter and stiffer.

Saturday was my first experience of a true direct drill. The conditions were good, and the surface was dry with plenty of moisture underneath.

After Will’s initial settings and calibration, we started to drill. I had no idea how it would go really but after a turn and a check for seed placement, all was well.

The seed was in around  30 mm and the sidewall of the seed furrow was crushed in, covering the seed. Our forward speed was 9 kph which was slower than our cultivator drill but it keeps soil disturbance to a minimum, as having sprayed off the cover crops and black-grass we did not want to create another flush of weeds.

I will let you know how things progress, but I did notice the other morning when I walked both fields the ploughing was drier. I know the surface was drier as  it had been drilled longest but I am sure the water infiltration was better on the ploughing but moisture retention was better after the DD.

As for other field work, all fert is now on and we have just got our T1 s on the Conversion and Zulu wheats, which are following our pulse breaks. The miscanthus is still in the swath waiting to bale, as we dare not turn it until we get a weather window to allow us time to get it dry, baled and stacked under the Dutch barn for collection.

Drilling at Driffield

DD at Driffield



Philip Meadley farms 250ha near Driffield, approximately four miles from the North Sea coast. In a four-way family partnership, he grows milling wheat, oilseed rape, peas and barley. Phil is particularly interested in soil health, reducing fuel usage, addressing mycotoxins and looking at his whole approach to cultivations.