9 July 1999

Autocast claim of 90% oilseed success rate

A SUCCESS rate of 90% is being claimed for more than 8000ha (20,000acres) of winter oilseed rape established with the combine header mounted Autocast seeder last autumn.

Only slugs or bad management caused failures, maintains Peter Eaden of Autocast. Morley costings suggest savings on cultivations and inputs of £108/ha (£44/acre).

That means a return on capital from less than 60ha (150 acres) of oilseed rape, Mr Eaden stresses. A single unit for headers up to 7.6m (25ft) costs £3850 fitted, 9.1m (30ft) headers require two units at a total cost of £5750.

"The same seed rates still apply, around 5-6kg/ha. And we recommend half rate slug pellets are included, followed by a roll or press."

The system should not be used before Aug 10 to prevent crops getting too large before the winter. "Its possible to control plant size with nitrogen. Up to 40kg of N is required after establishment, as the N from the previous crop is locked up.

"Then its a case of using N carefully, according to the size of the plants. Growers must manage the crop into the winter. An added bonus of the system is that there are no broad-leaved weed problems – the crop gets ahead of them." &#42