Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Reck prepares ground for spring crops

Spring is on the way with noticeably longer evenings and some pleasant sunshine.

The snow and frost of January has not allowed any field operations though. As soon as land is dry enough to travel I will spray off the area destined for spring barley with Roundup Gold (glyphosate).

Earlier lighter ground will be drilled late February/early March if possible to help spread the harvest workload.

Due to significantly lower fertiliser prices this season, we have decided to increase application rates of P and K to better reflect crop needs and replenish soil levels.

We’ve found from experience that fields with higher levels of K grew crops with better standing ability and were less prone to lodging in a difficult harvest.

We are involved in a fertiliser blending operation so we will formulate and manufacture an NPK fertiliser blend that best suits these requirements which will be broadcast pre-drilling. The balance of nitrogen and sulphur applied once tramlines are visible.

Our min-till cultivation regime has been adapted to take account of the wetter than usual season last year.

Deep cultivation in the drying ground in autumn has improved soil structure significantly. It will help growing crop handle any heavier than normal rainfall.

Recent heavy frosts have also helped break down the surface leaving soil that may only need shallow cultivation to create the seedbed necessary for the crop.

The downside is some frost damage is visible in the winter oats, but with a good seeding rate last autumn there’s still sufficient plants for a full crop.

This harvest will also see two 30ft rotary combines for the first time after an increase in acreage for the forthcoming harvest. This means crops will come off quicker ensuring that quality does not suffer due adverse weather.

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