East: To crop or not to crop?

Have just finished subscribing to the “build your own Noahs ark” kit!!! The land is absolutely saturated and any thoughts of land work will be on hold for a fair time. Conditions that some of the late sugar beet were lifted in means the soil structure has been well and truly compromised.


With prices of spring cropping not looking too clever careful thought must be made as to whether these fields should be left fallow in order to try and restructure the soil during the year.

This could form part of your contribution to the Campaign for Farmed Environment in that a cover crop of, for instance, mustard etc will help both you and the wildlife provided it is not cut down until after nesting.

Some fallow land I did last year worked very well on both counts particularly in sucking up the excess moisture enabling it to be ploughed very well in the autumn. Rape crops have been attacked quite badly by pigeons so that the crops with large leaf area last time I wrote are now not! This has implications for the amounts of N for the first application.

Easy decision for the backward crops, early, and a larger proportion tostart with, as the potential for more N is with the smaller leafedcrops to get them to the perceived maximum green leafed area index formaximum yield.


There is also the problem with the arctic conditions earlier in thevery small crops on some of the lighter soils with frost lift andplants lying on the surface. Larger canopied crops could have a lesseramount to start with.

On the subject of fertiliser there is now sound evidence to show that agreater amount of S should be applied to rape crops this year as trialsresults have shown a large response to S applications. Also the firstapplication of N/S should be made as soon as the soil temperatures haverisen to at least 5 degrees or growth starts.

Early drilled cereals still look reasonable in spite of the weatherthough he late ones are now looking a little ropey and will needcareful feeding to maximise their dwindling potential!

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