Farmer Focus: Plough appears for grassweed control

Drilling of cover crops and a little oilseed rape has been completed after an early harvest finish. The cover crops are growing well but the oilseed rape is predictably challenged.

Why are the radish, mustard and turnip rape all charging on without a nibble while the actual brassica destined to be harvested is being devoured?

We have tried all we can think of this year, including in-furrow nutrition and biology, plus companion and trap crops, so if this doesn’t work it will be bye-bye OSR and hello… aah.

See also: Harvest 2020: Frustrations grow as crop quality plummets

On the bright side, I’ve been pleased with our latest experimental drill set-up that uses one narrow tine per 25cm, working directly between the rows of last year’s stubble, with the aid of RTK guidance.

While that achieved some lovely low disturbance from a direct driller’s point of view, we have – horror of horrors – ploughed a couple of widths along two headlands to deal with some particularly stubborn grassweeds.

Before I am excommunicated from the no-till fraternity I would say in my defence that at this rate we will be on target to rotationally plough the whole farm once every millennium. However, we have had to do some non-inversion remedial work here and there as well, in order to recover from last year’s weather issues and avoid one bad year becoming two.

Some of this has been on rented land that we will only have for one more year before it is planted up with trees by Forestry England.

The problem is, this is the third year now that it has definitely been our last year, and we had a few years before that which were all meant to be our second-to-last year.

Of course you just can’t farm like that for very long, and a major highlight of the current mass of TV repeats was another chance to see the Duchy of Cornwall estate offering 10- to 20-year tenancies.

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