Farmer Focus: Rapeseed yields up 1t/ha on harvest 2016

We finished the oilseed rape harvest 10 days earlier than last year, presumably thanks to the earlier dry weather and more recent heat.

Despite this, and despite looking no better than last year’s crop (especially one area that was direct drilled with disc coulters into a lot of straw and then accidentally set alight by a walker), the oilseed rape yielded a full 1t/ha more this season.

In common with other crops in the area, the higher yield was also combined with higher oils and, of course, a higher price – a pity it was my smallest-ever area.

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I must admit to getting in a bit of a pickle with my direct drilling on the rape field this year. The problem is flints – after seven years of direct drilling with tines with slightly lifting points, the surface was covered in the offending stones and achieving any consolidation after drilling was proving impossible, as the rolls just rode over them.

For this reason, and because of some soil damage due to baling for our own livestock, we deep-loosened before the oilseed rape and used the opportunity to test subsoilers for low surface disturbance.

Unfortunately, although we think we have the solution in the shape of a Sumo GLS, others left ridges and we may now be forced to lightly cultivate the soil to reflatten it. It seems cultivations are rather like drinking beer – once you start, it’s difficult to stop.

Grass seed harvest

Our grass seed was harvested three weeks earlier than last year and, although the yield was not up to that year’s wet season heights, a major bonus was that the combine fairly sped along, armed as it was with a stripper header.

It was just as well because it started raining the minute we finished and the ensuing week or so of sporadic thunderstorms would have left little seed intact, so many thanks to local farmers Messrs Reynolds and Smith.

We are growing the grass seed for good agronomic reasons and it does fit well with my brother’s livestock, but it certainly keeps us on our toes one way or another.

Andy Barr farms 700ha in a family partnership in Kent. Combinable crops amount to about 400ha and include milling wheat and malting barley in an increasingly varied rotation. He also grazes 800 Romney ewes and 40 Sussex cattle and the farm uses conservation agriculture methods.

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