Farmer Focus: OSR promised more than it delivered

Like most arable farmers, the harvest routine has kicked in – dinner and the family are brought out to the field so I can scoff between trailer loads and remind my children what I look like, and conversations must fall silent when the weather report is on.

Farmers in our area seem to have been very lucky with the weather so far – although we had some useful rains at times, we have been able to cut and bring crops in.

I have thought several times about the growers further north who look to have had bad luck, with heavy rainfall and some extreme conditions. I hope there hasn’t been too much damage and it clears away swiftly for them.

See also: How tackling take-all can lift winter barley yields

We were really proud that, having had significant pressure from flea beetle in our oilseed rape last August at establishment, we never lost any crop (even though some areas were thinned) and crops in late Autumn looked well.

Disappointing OSR yield

We did see stunting of plants at stem extension, but, again, the majority looked strong.

Unfortunately, our harvest results of 3t/ha were disappointing, and looking at risk level and the inputs required, we have scaled back even further on our rapeseed area this year.

We were amazed by the numbers of adult beetles that we took in off the field, and having sent my sample of 250-odd beetles to Rothamsted Research, I was even more amazed to hear they were 100% resistant to field-rate levels of lambda-type insecticides.

Our commitment to widening the rotation, introducing more clover leys, making better use of livestock and increasing cropping diversity is even stronger when I consider the above results.

Pleased with harvest result

Apart from the OSR, I’m very pleased with harvest results to date. Early cultivation has encouraged a good strike of volunteer cereals or brome in places.

This year, we variably applied fibrophos, using our phosphate maps, and lime applications are all done.

I was really encouraged to be asked to speak with Tamara Finkelstein, who is the newly appointed permanent secretary at Defra.

She wanted to hear opinion on several topics, but was very keen to hear how things can be better. I thought it was great she has taken the time to hear directly from farmers.