Andy Barr questions the new Clearfield oilseed rape

My Dale drill is back from the factory looking new, improved and raring to get going with our spring barley drilling.

I will compare planting directly into a sprayed-off cover crop, that includes vetches, oats, sunflowers, peas and linseed, with tickling it first with some discs. Of course, rain wise I hope for a different spring to the last, but maybe such cover crops combined with early autumn drilling, foliar nutrients and compost applications will help if the current drought continues.

The spring-fed pond outside my house is still dry and no-one can remember that in February before. It may also help if everyone drinks beer instead of water which would have the added bonus of buoying the malting barley market.

Like fellow Farmer Focus writer Will Howe (p62, 3 February), I have been looking for a system to accurately deliver liquid fertiliser at low rates behind numerous drill coulters. I haven’t found one either, but have discovered the technology exists in Australia and do know someone who is working on it in the UK. So I’m keen to investigate new technologies, but I do have questions about the appearance in the HGCA oilseed rape variety trials of DK Imagine. I am all for driving down costs, but the herbicide this “Clearfield” variety is resistant to is imazamox, which is an ALS inhibitor, like Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron). It seems to me this might open another huge box of uncontrollable herbicide-resistance frogs.

Another way to combat weeds apparently employed by some direct drilling types in foreign climes is a rotation. Specifically, one that spans four years and includes consecutively two cereals, two spring crops, two breaks and two winter crops, such as winter wheat, spring barley, spring peas and winter oilseed rape. I’ve mulled over a few options, but one minor problem keeps cropping up – making it economical.

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