22 December 1995

Farmer swears by cultivations system

ONE of the biggest costs in cereal production occurs before the crop is planted – the cultivation costs.

Mike Jackson farms 160ha (400 acres) at Laxton, Newark, Notts, and has now developed a cultivation system which he believes is not only cheaper than most other systems but also offers benefits in terms of soil condition and yield. Soil type is predominantly Keuper marl.

Start of Mr Jacksons cultivation system for wheat involves shallow ploughing to a maximum depth of 10cm (4in) using an eight-furrow plough pulled by a hired Ford 7840. Ground is only loosened to a greater depth (below 30cm) if considered necessary.

Ploughing is followed by a pass with a Sampo Turbotill cultivator working in combination with a roll. Land is then left for 4-5 weeks. In mid-September volunteers are sprayed off with paraquat.

Mr Jackson then moves in with his drill/cultivator kit – a front-mounted Lely Centerliner broadcaster, followed by the Sampo turbotiller and a modified set of drag harrows. Depending on conditions, the operation can include a final pass with a set of rolls.

Advantages listed include less machinery and labour expense, easier working soils, low capital input and even plant spacing. Tramlines, he says, can be put in the crop at a later date.

Mr Jacksons method for the establishment of oilseed rape also includes shallow ploughing after straw from the previous crop has been chopped. Drilling is performed in one pass by a power harrow with a rear roller and a Stocks electric rape seeder box.

Target yield for oilseed rape is 3.5t/ha (1.4t/acre).

Mr Jackson is convinced that most cultivation and drilling equipment used is too heavy, particularly in wet years. Horsepower requirement is high and the whole operation becomes too expensive for smaller farms to justify.

"In terms of cost combined labour and machinery cost must not exceed £250/ha," he insists. "If they are more than that we might as well employ a contractor, which we do not want to do."

Mike Jacksons cultivation/drilling equipment


valueAcres/hourcost £/hourcost £/acre

Ford 7840 115hp (hired)0

Lemken shallow plough eight-furrow5002.2156.82

3.5m Sampo turbotiller5004174.25

Lely Centreliner Broadcaster15010121.20


Rundle 3.5m heavy Cambridge rolls8005122.40

Stocks Electric rape seeder box1000510.20

5-leg Shakerator12001.52013.33

John Deere 3050 4000 hours8000

Mike Jackson:Shallow ploughing to a maximum depth of 10cm (4in) starts the process.