July Crop UpdateAugust 3, 2017 10:57 am
By Martin Lole
Arable farmer and owner of Springfield Farm, a Mzuri Trial Farm in Pershore, Worcestershire, UK
July has been an unusual month here at Springfield farm. We started on a high and finished our record OSR harvest in record time with equal optimism for rolling out the combine into the wheat soon after. Three weeks later we’re twiddling our thumbs staring into the grey drizzly sky.
A quick field walk confirmed my suspicions that the wheat is ready to go and starting to lean, but the wet weather has put a stop to play and I’m itching to get going.
It looks to be another cracking yield and I’m certainly glad we’re growing feed not milling wheat otherwise we really would be panicking.
Yield looks to be promising but the wet weather is causing it to lean in places.
That being said, the upside to the wet weather is that the Soya is looking well, although it would really benefit from a good dose of sunlight.
Pods have formed all the way up the stem in mass; who knows how we’re going to combine them! That’ll make for an interesting farm diary installment.
Pods are forming up the length of the stems.
Reggie’s feeling a little left out now that the soya has overtaken him in the growth stakes – it certainly has shot up.
The linseed is looking encouraging and overall is a very clean, healthy crop. It’s beginning to change and it won’t be long until we are thinking about desiccation.
The linseed is just beginning to turn and looking to be another successful crop.
We have a “zero tolerance to weeds” policy on farm and good headland management has a huge part to play in winning the battle against weeds.
We managed to time our OSR stubble raking perfectly this year getting in straight after the combine and with the rain setting in minutes after putting the rake to bed. This combination, along with the fine tilth produced by the rake, has given us an incredible volunteer germination rate, with grass weeds germinating nearer the headlands. I’m optimistic that second time around there will be few seeds left to germinate! The volunteers and weed seedlings will receive an application of Glyphosate as advised by our Agronomist David, to knock them out prior to drilling.
Most excitingly however, is the sheer number of worms that are clearly visible when inspecting the soil. The fine tilth has accelerated the decomposition of straw and the quick germination of seeds and wet weather has kept the moisture in providing the perfect environment of worms. Lightly parting the surface residue reveals tens of worms in each handful of soil, around 20cm in length, although they are a little camera shy!
The mechanical destruction of slug habitats from the stubble rake has appeared to have done the trick. Along with help from the beetles I have seen hardly any slug activity which is a promising start, proving that letting nature do its thing often reaps rewards.
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