Farmer Focus: Slugs decimate wild bird food plots

The 2012 growing season was a great learning experience as we had a BASF trial on the farm, and I watched their untreated and single treatment plots go from green to yellow over a weekend due to septoria.

This year, the weather and disease has been similar, with the bonus of a rust explosion as well. We, therefore, went with strong chemistry and, at present, it is holding up.

See also: Why pollinators are key to Scottish grower’s 6t/ha bean yield

About the author

Robin Aird
Arable Farmer Focus writer Robin Aird manages 1500ha on the north Wiltshire and Gloucestershire border, with a further 160ha on a contract farming agreement. Soils vary from gravel to clay with the majority silty clay loams. The diverse estate has Residential, commercial and events enterprises. He is Basis qualified and advises on other farming businesses.
Read more articles by Robin Aird

The Extase winter wheat is having its T3 of prothioconazole and tebuconazole to top up the septoria and fusarium control.

The Palladium is a week behind and at present, we are keeping on top of the rust.

I am impressed with how the wheats have tillered, and hopefully, the grain fill period will increase the potential and we may get back to an average yield.

Fingers crossed the winter rye will reach grain fill shortly, and we can then start chopping when it hits 30% dry matter. This will be down on budget, as it has really struggled with the wet autumn.

To reduce our risk, we are going to split the whole crop area into rye and winter barley. This will give us an earlier harvest date, and help with blackgrass control.

This year seems to be a spring crop year. The spring wheat is looking strong and has just had its T1. However, there is a little bit of rust creeping in which we will, hopefully, get on top of.

The most forward maize is now at leaf six and has had a herbicide for blackgrass.

We are just doing the final top-up of digestate on this crop now, and it will get a broad-leaved spray shortly. The difference in weed pressure from late April to early May crop is extreme.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship wild bird seeds are about to be planted.

We drilled a few blocks two weeks ago and the slug pressure has been enormous, to a point where we may lose the crop.

I have never had to treat a wild bird food plot for slugs before. It is a pity the birds did not get the memo that their starter was already squirming about on the surface.

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