5 August 2001
How do you lo-till winter beans?

I have been using a Kuhn drill, like Jim Bullocks, for two years. The crops have emerged very well and the yields have been very satisfactory. I did not have any success in drilling winter beans last year. I have read that Jim drills winter beans and am wondering if he would tell me how he did it and with what results. The farm is in south Leicestershire with heavy banks and lighter floodplains.

Last year was not a good year to be direct drilling winter beans. We only managed to get about half the planned area drilled. What we managed to get drilled grew away well in the areas that were not under water all winter – the flooded areas rotted.

But our crops compare favourably with those our neighbours ploughed down at the same time. The ploughed down crops around us emerged reasonably well, but then suffered later on through waterlogging. Several crops in the area had to be re-drilled this spring.

We are now using wide row spacing, using the Kuhn head reducer. This means we are taking the pressure off every other row. This increases the pressure on the remaining coulters, aiding penetration and making the drill a bit easier to pull – it can take a bit of pulling up steep hillsides later on in the season when the ground is wet.

Prior to drilling we always spray off with glyphosate. If we do not manage to close the slots, which is often the case under wet conditions, we harrow with our lo-till rake at an angle of 45-90 degrees to the way the field was drilled. This is done after the surface has had time to haze over (2-3 hours under reasonably dry conditions)

Our most successful post drilling weed control has been through the use of 1/2 rate simazine and 1/2 rate stomp.

The spring beans we have drilled in April this year are looking quite promising – those drilled into the frost in January were a complete waste of time theyre full of weeds as we couldnt get a herbicide on until March, and ready to combine now!

From:Jim Bullock