29 October 1999

Three passes not for all

MANAGING winter wheat with as few as three field passes to apply inputs could save growers up to £80/ha (£32/acre).

But possible yield reductions of up to 0.7t/ha (0.28t/acre) need considering before taking the plunge.

"But I do not want growers to go away with the idea that three passes is the way forward for all crops," Nick Poole, research co-ordinator for Arable Research Centres, told the first HGCA Agronomy Roadshow at Ashford, Kent, on Tuesday.

First year results from the HGCA-funded study show possible savings of £70-£80/ha (£28-£32/acre) where lower cost establishment techniques were combined with just three application passes.

But not all direct drilled or minimum-tilled crops are candidates for minimum pass husbandry, yield effects outweighing cost savings in some cases.

Scope to reduce passes was likely to improve with the introduction of take-all seed treatments, said Mr Poole. "A seed treatment will boost second wheat yields and simplify the input regime, so fewer passes become possible."

&#8226 More details in next weeks issue.