28 April 1995

Wider range of gear needed

GROWERS must consider using a wider range of equipment to cope with different soil and weather conditions when establishing crops, says the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA).

It is a conclusion drawn following two years of research and field trials by Silsoe College, ADAS and the University of Nottingham into the establishment of oilseed rape drilled into straw residues on a range of "difficult" soil types.

Two machines were tested – a cross-slot coultered drill developed in New Zealand and a single disc coultered drill manufactured by Moore Uni-Drill.

Modifications to both systems resulted in satisfactory performance in dry conditions, reports the HGCA. But in wet conditions prolonged waterlogging and slug attack seriously affected crop establishment at a number of sites.

Not surprisingly, better yields were recorded where straw was removed before direct drilling, but best results were achieved from conventionally cultivated and drilled plots – 15% more yield than direct-drilled.

Silsoe College researcher Dr Richard Earl, believes the results show further developments in drilling techniques are required.