1 September 2000

BEWARE DANGER OF CULTIVATIONS POLICY CHANGE

Cereal growers venturing

onto the road of early

drilling and reduced

cultivations must adjust

their stride, according to

a Notts heavy land farmer.

Andrew Blake reports

FOR Peter White, manager for K Mawer & Co, lower seed rates, Eco-tillage and strobilurins have been fundamental in meeting targets set in the mid-1990s. The strategy change has led to yields of 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) of oilseed rape and 12.4t/ha (5t/acre) of wheat.

Mr White runs 579ha (1430 acres) of mainly Keuper marl at Leyfields, Kneesall, for a family partnership. Autumn cultivations and contract drilling are done on a further 283ha (700 acres). Apart from a small area of sugar beet and some winter barley, most of the home farm is down to a two wheats/one winter rape rotation.

"I am a great believer in simple systems. We dry and store on-floor and grow only feed wheats which we deliver locally."

His shift from ploughing and power harrowing three years ago undoubtedly helped by improving soil structure, he believes. It also introduced a more flexible, less weather-dependent system, eased autumn workloads and permitted more contracting.

"Our results are not down to any one thing, more a package of

Cereal growers venturing

onto the road of early

drilling and reduced

cultivations must adjust

their stride, according to

a Notts heavy land farmer.

Andrew Blake reports

FOR Peter White, manager for K Mawer & Co, lower seed rates, Eco-tillage and strobilurins have been fundamental in meeting targets set in the mid-1990s. The strategy change has led to yields of 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) of oilseed rape and 12.4t/ha (5t/acre) of wheat.

Mr White runs 579ha (1430 acres) of mainly Keuper marl at Leyfields, Kneesall, for a family partnership. Autumn cultivations and contract drilling are done on a further 283ha (700 acres). Apart from a small area of sugar beet and some winter barley, most of the home farm is down to a two wheats/one winter rape rotation.

"I am a great believer in simple systems. We dry and store on-floor and grow only feed wheats which we deliver locally."

His shift from ploughing and power harrowing three years ago undoubtedly helped by improving soil structure, he believes. It also introduced a more flexible, less weather-dependent system, eased autumn workloads and permitted more contracting.

"Our results are not down to any one thing, more a package of several complementing each other."

One side-effect is that the lower seed rate for earlier sowing no longer justifies farm-saving. "When you cost everything properly and add in the hassle of storing varieties separately, buying commercial seed is very similar."

Growers thinking of following suit must be ready to tweak management standards, he advises. "If they dont they could end up with more problems, like grassweeds, that occurred the 1970s with minimal cultivations." &#42

Modern cultivation and drilling equipment means surface trash, such as this after naturally regenerated

set-aside, is far less of a problem

than it once was at Leyfields, Kneesall, Notts, says Mr White.

Slow developing winter wheat varieties like Buchan are prime candidates for early sowing, says Notts farmer Peter White.