Direct drilling oilseed rape is successful for Andy Barr

It may have been the 29C heat, but while driving I think I spotted a field of oilseed rape coming into flower. Cunningly, I’ve managed to keep mine small enough to avoid this. Indeed a small portion is very small after being re-sown; my first season of direct drilling has been 95% successful and this bit of rape in flints never appeared after being hollowed out before germinating.

This isn’t good enough and tweaking is required, but so far financially and establishment-wise I’m delighted with the technique, although the proof will be in the harvesting. I’ve also experimented with 25cm cereal rows widths, with urea or di-ammonium phosphate in the row, and east to west drilling. What could possibly go wrong?

This sowing method has conserved moisture in another dry spell and it was interesting to hear that an Aussie friend has just invested $2m (£1.2m) to enable him to irrigate 485ha from a river. I was amazed at the cost, but he explained that this way at least he would get a crop every year rather than every three and some higher value crops could be grown. I wonder what the effect on our planet will be if many more of the world’s rivers end up never reaching the sea?

I’m off to The Netherlands this week with the British Cereal Exports (BCE), part of the HGCA, who help facilitate sales of our cereals abroad. Of course, the more that is exported the less will be left here and hence our prices will be supported. For wheat, it’s not really the size of our surplus that is the key, but the quality. It will be interesting to see if the good showing of some new Group 2 and 3 varieties in this year’s trials will help with this in the future.

Twitter: @EwenMcEwen




Arable Farmer Focus: Andy Barr

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