Successful Crop Establishment
There are a number of elements that make up the formula for successful crop establishment, including good soil structure, nutrient accessibility, light intensity, the levels of organic matter and moisture availability.
However, arguably the most important condition for quick germination lies in the preparation of the perfect nursery seedbed. Seeds prefer friable, moist, yet well-draining soil to germinate in. Contact with air and straw will result in failed germination; therefore, the seeding strip must be well consolidated to remove air pockets and be free from contaminants for optimum seed to soil contact. Next, accurate planting depth is key as it ensures uniform emergence which is particularly important for effective crop management later on. Plants also benefit from fertiliser placement just below the seed to speed up root development.
Finally, optimum levels of light throughout the life of the plant reduce fungal disease and result in bushier, stockier plants.
The degree to which these conditions are met may often mean the difference between success and failure. Adapting correct crop management programmes which support the soil’s natural ecosystem and conserve moisture, as well as opting for reduced tillage machinery capable of preparing the best environment for the seed, are therefore essential.
At Mzuri, we have devised a 5 step programme which has been put to the test on our own Trial Farm. It consists of soil assessment, crop rotation, straw retention, light interception and minimising risk.