Dry weather early in the month came just in time after a damp February.
The combination of cultivation in a dry harvest and heavy frosts over the winter has certainly improved drainage and, with a cover crop over the winter, the soils have remained surprisingly mellow and are easily worked by the cultivator.
This has meant that the tracked John Deere is pulling the cultivator at ease reducing diesel consumption and wearing part costs. The benefits of the cover crop are clearly seen in the cultivated soil. Lumps break freely in your hand and dry quickly. The Vaderstad Spirit has also lived up to my expectations. The loose soils after cultivation are pressed evenly by the large press wheels while the seed is drilled into this firm soil. The following consolidating wheels ensure good seed-to-soil contact and will give uniform crop establishment.
Spring barley drilling is ongoing and will hopefully be completed before the end of March. This will give the remaining top dressing and spraying a structured approach during the season. With an expanded acreage this season the efficient use of machinery will become even more important. To achieve this, I’m installing extra water tanks so that the sprayer will turn around quicker and increase output per day without the need for extra spraying days, which all too often are not available. The chaser bin will also be used to cart fertiliser to the bulk spreader, keeping the spreader in the field, gaining extra capacity without extra investment.
The availability of the new SDHI fungicide chemistry should also give greater options for disease control on the spring barley. Increased application intervals will allow T1 to be applied slightly earlier than usual to combat infection before it can take hold in the crop while not jeopardising the T2 application.