Direct drilled Oakley is star performer, says Keith Challen

Well we’ve finally got harvest in a corner, after a damp start we seem to have been flying latterly with only 80ha of wheat left as I write.

Generally yields have been fantastic with DK Expower hybrid rape coming in at 5.4t/ha and the other varieties falling between that and 4t/ha which on the whole I’m pleased with considering the whole crop was Autocast from the combine.

However it’s the wheat that’s been the star this harvest with direct drilled Oakley averaging 12t/ha and all the rest of the feed wheat well in excess of 10.5t/ha, the heavy land has come into its own in this dry season. However, as I reported last year, we desperately need rain to replenish soil moisture, but just not yet please.

Thanks to GR Gilder contractors for cleaning the dykes out, levelling spoil and finding drains at record pace between the fields being combined and cultivated, no mean task as combine and cultivator were often both in the same field. We’ve not had a really wet winter in these parts for a few years, so when we do, I want to be ready.

Rape stubble cultivations are complete and we are very pleased with the results. Our modified Terrano has performed well with only a couple of breakdowns; the Quadtrac is now bolted to the Solo drill and flat out drilling rape. To date, 120ha of DK Excillium with seed rates of 35 seeds/sq m, quite different from last year’s 100 seeds. I’m sure I will sleep better when I see it all in row.

My neighbours have been laughing at me again for sniffing soil, they know who they are. However, I suspect it’s no coincidence that the sweetest smelling soil we have has returned our highest yields.




arable farmer focus: keith challen

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