21 January 2000

Plough gives head start in establishment trial system

By Andrew Swallow

DECEMBER plant counts in wheat drilling trials at Stanaway Farm, Suffolk show the versatility of plough-based establishment. But minimal tillage and direct drilling held their own despite less than ideal conditions.

"The results show ploughing is a fool-proof system in the wet," says farm manager and farmers weekly Farmer Focus writer James Moldon. "However, minimal tillage plots also reached the target population of 350 plants/sq m."

Establishment by direct drilling led to lower than target plant counts, but they are unlikely to affect yield, he says.

"More important is the consistent trend between establishment techniques," Mr Moldon adds.

&#8226 This years trial is set out on the same ground as Autocast, minimum tillage and ploughed oilseed rape establishment work last year. Longer term changes to soil structure will be investigated in March by scanning and digging soil pits. The results will be reported in FW. &#42