Know How / Land preparation

Getting your land ready for drilling and planting is crucial to getting crops off to the best start. Find practical guidance on improving your soil health, making good quality seed-beds, ploughing and cultivation techniques and choosing the right cover crops. Read advice on preparing land for wheat, barley, potatoes and sugar beet crops.


Case studies

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Why cover crops have a place on a mixed Hampshire farm

Cover cropping has earned its place in the arable rotation at Freefolk Farms in Hampshire, with stubble turnips being used ahead of spring cropping, bringing many benefits on the thin…


Video: Crimper trial aims to kill cover crops without herbicides

The holy grail of crimping is for cover crops to slowly die into a weed-supressing mat, covering the soil without the use of chemical sprays or the plough. For an…


Beef cattle improve soil health on Notts arable farm

Nottinghamshire farmer Trevor Needham is successfully using beef cattle to improve the health of his hungry sandland soils, lifting cereal yields in the process. Bringing grass leys into the rotation…


OSR growers focus on costs and yields for next season

With oilseed rape crops taking advantage of the much-needed May sunshine, our four growers taking part in our OSR Masters series are keeping a close eye on crop progress as…


Blackgrass battle looks winnable for Suffolk grower

Suffolk grower Andrew Colchester has taken a big step towards banishing blackgrass on his farm by radically changing his cultivation strategy and beefing up his herbicide programme. He had seen…


Kent grower sees top rapeseed yields without insecticides

Companion crops have allowed Kent grower Andy Barr to stop using insecticides on his oilseed rape despite being in a hot spot for cabbage stem flea beetle damage and without…

Practical advice

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5 tips to successfully convert to a no-till system

Adopting conservation agriculture can involve many highs and lows. We asked independent biological farming expert Mike Harrington to share his five top tips on how to make it a smoother process.…


What to consider when changing your establishment system

Farmers looking to change their establishment system are attracted by the promises of improved weed control and cheaper cultivations; however, getting it wrong can prove to be a costly mistake.…


Video: 5 key points for destroying your cover crops

Timing is key when killing off cover crops with one expert suggesting a herbicide needs to be used some three to four weeks before a spring crop is drilled. Some…


How to stop soil erosion in maize crops next season

Avoiding costly soil erosion and nutrient leaching from growing maize is a year-long endeavour beginning with correct field selection and ending with careful winter stubble management. Improving soil structure can…


3 ways to measure earthworm numbers

Having a healthy population of earthworms can help growers halt the UK’s serious decline in soil health, with an estimated loss of 2.2m tonnes of topsoil each year. Earthworms’ key…


Tips on how to get your soils back in to better shape

Up to 30% of the yield from the UK’s record-breaking wheat crop in Northumberland came from water stored in the soil, highlighting the importance of healthy soils. And given that…


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Expert advice on managing soils better

Soil health has risen to the top of the agenda for the agricultural industry over recent years. At the recent Farmers Weekly Soils in Practice event on a Lincolnshire farm,…


How 'conservation agriculture' can improve soil health

Adopting the fundamental principles of “conservation agriculture” has huge potential for nursing depleted arable soils back to health and correct implementation is key to its success. Conservation agriculture is defined…


Min-till and flexible drilling leads to bigger wheat yields

Minimum tillage and flexible drilling dates can increase winter wheat yields and profitability when compared with ploughing and rigid sowing times. Top wheat growers with the highest gross margins tended…


How companion crops can slash inputs by 30%

Growing more than one crop could play a valuable role on UK farms, through raising yields and slashing the need for inputs, and it may even help solve problems such as barley…


How maize growers are countering critics with good husbandry

Maize growers are countering controversial claims that the crop is damaging to the environment by promoting good agricultural practice. A “maize charter” that is being trialled in southern England aims to encourage…


Arable Horizons: How science and tech could save our soils

Our soils are in trouble. That has been the clear and much-publicised message from the scientific community in recent years. But despite the gloomy headlines, Wilfred Otten of the Cranfield…


Growers highlight soil and cost advantages of using no-till

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to putting no-tillage cultivation techniques into practice, but there is a basic recipe that everyone can follow. Minimal soil disturbance, diverse rotations and…


Short-term benefits pay for cover crop establishment

The short-term benefits of improved nutrient capture and weed suppression pay for the cost of establishing a cover crop, according to new data. This then leaves the longer-term benefits to…


Composts can give a quick lift to soil fertility

The addition of organic materials can improve soil fertility and also provide a useful source of nutrients. Louise Impey reports on the latest research. The use of bulky organic materials,…


Video: Maintain potato yields and cut cultivation costs

An investigation into the best cultivation strategies for potato production has found that growers could make savings without affecting yields by cultivating shallower. AHDB-sponsored work by Niab CUF at a…


Agronomists give their no-till crop establishment verdict

Low crop prices are forcing growers to reassess their costs, and ditching the plough for a no-till approach offers savings of up to 40% on establishment. However, this push for…


Building a case for no-till crop establishment

Whether at grower meetings, hashtagged on your Twitter feed or even featured on BBC’s Countryfile on a Sunday evening, “no-till” enthusiasts are certainly making a lot of noise. Global grain…