Healthy Crops; Healthy Interest

David Holmes explains Great Plains’ work to the audience at Doncaster
David Holmes explains Great Plains’ work to the audience at Doncaster

Finding more effective and cost-efficient ways of establishing oilseed rape remains one of the ‘hot topics’ for arable farmers, as the healthy attendance at Agrovista’s Grow Crop Gold open days proves.

These trials are among a number that Great Plains is working on with a range of industry partners, and have been producing some valuable observations.

At STOUGHTON, Leicestershire, Agrovista’s Mark Hemmant highlighted the impact that establishing the right density of crop has on yield, and the ability of oilseed plants to recover from setbacks during the season:

“Some of the plots went from looking very poor in April to looking decent in May and because they got the right mix of sunshine and weather at pollination went on to yield 4.5 tonnes/ha. A low plant population can compensate very well providing we look after it properly”.

There was also a significant difference in crop establishment according to whether straw had been chopped and spread or incorporated:

“We saw much better establishment where the chopped straw left on the surface had been parted and swept aside by the Great Plains’ Simba DTX leg, so the seed falls straight on to the soil directly above a restructured zone, so it can quickly establish a good, deep rooting system.

“Establishment where the straw had been incorporated was less efficient, possibly because straw breakdown can reduce soil temperature by four or five degrees”.

At DONCASTER, running a restructuring tine through the ground just ahead of planting oilseed rape is showing real benefits.

As reported in previous updates, Great Plains ran a Simba ST bar ahead of a Yield-Pro Planter to restructure below the seedbed – an operation that is producing stronger, better rooted plants, says David Holmes, UK Sales Director: “The precision planting accuracy of Yield-Pro planters ensures every plant has a dedicated rooting zone. We are keen to see whether these benefits can be realised in oilseed rape, which is recognised as a ‘lazy rooting’ crop.

“Sample plants taken from the rows planted by the ST Bar and YP planter had bigger roots than those from rows planted without restructuring, which is important, as we know the bigger the plant’s root system before the winter shut down the better it is likely to yield.

“This is also great insurance against variable weather – whether it is wet or dry. If the winter is wet, excess water will be able to drain away freely, avoiding the threat of water-logging and drowning the roots.

“If conditions are dry next summer we know the plant will be able to access moisture from deeper in the soil and achieve its full yield potential”.