Farmer Focus – Philip Reck
It’s been a slow start to the spring and it is a little later than normal this year. Ground has been slow to dry, but patience has prevailed until conditions became suitable. Spring barley is a fickle crop to establish; if conditions are not ideal then yield potential can be reduced.
Headlands need particular attention. Accurate fertilisation and cultivation are necessary so that drilling takes place in ideal conditions, maximising the barley’s potential on the biggest cut of the field from a harvester’s point of view. Headlands are something we have an abundance of here.
A lot of fertiliser research concentrates on the application of N, P, K and lime. This chemistry can only function properly if the soil’s physical structure is in line.
Soils require an equilibrium of more than just N, P and K. Calcium and magnesium levels remain the most important aspect of a soil sample. This ratio needs to be as close to 68%:12% as possible, if a soil can achieve this then this will be the best-yielding field you have. It is this attention to detail that can improve the yield of a crop. Magnesium is generally high on our farm’s samples; to counteract this I will be applying granulated calcium sulphate where calcium levels are low. It will also loosen compacted soils, improve the structure and increase the calcium levels in the soil without affecting the pH.
T0 timing is nearly due on the winter wheat, while the temptation is ever present to go early, increasing the gap until T1 will put undue pressure on this application, when the most critical aspect of it is its timing.This structured approach will also be applied to spring barley.