3 August 2001

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By Charles Abel

KEEN to get oilseed rape off to a fast start this autumn? Then broadcasting into standing wheat could be a low-cost, effective alternative to Autocasting from the combine header.

Farm management and consultancy company Aubourn tried the technique in Lincs last year and is extending its use this year.

Two 50kg Stocks Fan Jet slug pellet applicators mounted mid-boom on a Sands self-propelled sprayer are used to broadcast seed into standing wheat the day before harvesting.

With electronic cut-offs, the total cost is £450/unit, compared with over £3500 to fit an Autocast unit to each of Malborough Farms two Claas Lexion combines, says manager Philip Ashton.

The wheat is generally glyphosated to aid harvesting and improve chopping. The stubble is left long to reduce the trash mat on top of seed and to deter pigeons.

Immediately after harvesting, the field is rolled to squeeze seed into the soil surface and slug pellets are applied by ATV as needed. Seed rate was 3-5kg/ha depending on variety.

The system seems to work. "The crop grew with no check and its a good crop that we have swathed and looking good ready for harvesting," says Mr Ashton.

An added benefit is speed of operation. "Last year operator John Baddon was typically doing 200 acres between 7am and 9am and back out combining by 10am," says Mr Ashton.

The applicators come with a calibration guide and spread pattern will be tray tested. &#42