Farmer Focus: Having another go at organic no-till

The unrelenting wet weather has now finally put the lid on any more winter sowing.

We did bravely venture out on one particularly blowy day after a few days of dry weather and cultivated three fields purely as a weeding exercise, and then promptly bogged our Cameleon down on the first headland.

I was not very popular, as farmworker Greg had spent several days cleaning both machines ready for the sunny spring we are expecting. It has to be a sunny spring, doesn’t it?

See also: How to increase beneficial insects in arable crops

I have been feeling slightly envious of my neighbours’ advantage of spraying off their winter weed burden with a well-known systemic herbicide. It left their soils undisturbed and given opportunities for drilling without turning up wet clouds of Hanslope clay.

Organic no-till

It has also prompted me to start investigating the possibilities of organic no-till here at Shimpling Park Farm.

I did try it a few years ago, and possibly picked the wrong field as my trial was quickly swamped with docks and creeping thistle – a problem that I am still dealing with today. But if at first you don’t succeed, try and try etc.

So I have set out to interview the High Priests of the technique (any High Priestesses, please email me), and have already interviewed Simon Cowell and am due to chat with James Alexander, Clive Bailey and Tim Parton in the near future.

I am also in correspondence with Ben Colchester, who is attempting organic no-till on the west coast of Ireland, one of the bravest men I know.

The plan is to put together a presentation for the Mecca of #RootsNotIron – the Groundswell event on 24 and 25 June – where I do hope you will join me and fill in the gaps.

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