Farmer Focus: Trip up North reveals extent of crop damage

Weather issues continue to dominate but some motorway-based agronomy on a recent drive up through the country gave the impression that we in the South East haven’t had it quite as bad as some.

Easter flowering oilseed rape is out again, but to be honest not all looked in top nick.

We’ll have to add a flowering spray to our list of jobs as we can be hammered in the wrong year.

See also: Phosphate fertiliser could render urease inhibitors ineffective

About the author

Andy Barr
Andy Barr farms 320ha in mid-Kent, aiming to farm as regeneratively as possible. He stopped ploughing 25 years ago and over this time restructured the business with less land farmed and increased the use of contractors, environmental areas and diversification projects.
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It will be the first fungicide my OSR has seen, but is that because of my regen, six-way, high-resistance variety mix, or just because it’s been too wet to do anything?

Either way, it looks surprisingly clean and better than recent years.

Fortunately, we had opportunities to finish applying all our solid urea before the cut-off at the end of March, after which an added inhibitor is required.

I am all for reducing pollution, but as Niab research shows urea gives the same end yield as ammonium nitrate, is it possible we’re either overestimating volatilisation or ignoring leaching?

Indeed, with more heavy rain forecast, maybe I will lose more nitrogen to the environment with ammonium nitrate than if I stuck with urea this year?

We did manage to get our spring beans drilled, although if I had any sense they would be replaced by some kind of environmental scheme option.

Annoyingly, the Syngenta conservation agriculture trials I have on the farm showed that tillage is beneficial for the spring version of the crop.

Perhaps they are lazy rooters or need more air in the soil to fix nitrogen than a slight sheep grazing on a cover crop induced cap allows?

In contrast, a small area of barley after a two-year herbal ley has experienced some bad wireworm issues for the first time, which coincides with the first time I have deep loosened in this situation.

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