Farmer Focus: Get ready to play OSR bingo again this summer

Our harvest campaign has kicked off with six-row Kingsbarn feed winter barley. So far yields and quality seem respectable and above expectations although we have had some difficulty fully de-awning the sample.

Winter barley is such a useful way to spread the harvest burden into mid-July and lets us get on with filling straw barns before peak harvest.

See also: How to prepare for ergot limits in cereals for harvest 2021

We have invested in a new Avacast micro granular applicator for this autumn. This can be retro fitted to either the Horsch drill or the Dalbo rollers. The main function of this will be to apply Avadex (tri-allate) granules to many autumn-drilled cereals without needing to use specialist contractor services. With a different mode of action to flufenacet, Avadex assists positively with blackgrass control.

This equipment can also be used for companion cropping experiments in oilseed rape (without the need for a double pass) and can also be used to apply slug pellets. Two of us on farm have completed the necessary training course to use granular applicators.

We plan to play oilseed rape bingo once again with the caveat that if drilling coincides with an extreme dry period we may still pull the plug. Digesting the lessons learned from last season; we will use increased amounts of cattle slurry on seed-beds (the smellier the better), more companion cropping with buckwheat or mustard (in conjunction with Clearfield varieties) and drill even earlier, if possible, to stay ahead of beetle migrations.

This crop is too pivotal to our rotational programmes to throw in the towel.


David Butler farms just south of Marlborough in Wiltshire in partnership with his parents. He also runs a contracting company and farms about 870ha of combinable crops alongside a herd of 280 dairy cows.