Soil Structure Crucial

Philip Wright highlights tine choice issues to a visitor
Philip Wright highlights tine choice issues to a visitor

Farmers waiting to cultivate and drill in the spring should be patient and not rush into the field, suggests Philip Wright, from Wright Resolutions, who presented the Soil Structure Clinic at LAMMA.

But they should put the ‘waiting time’ to good use and find out a bit more about the state of their farm’s drainage:

“Many visitors started talking about which tines they should be using and what disc angles to use for spring work, but actually they need to go back a step.

“The first thing I would suggest anyone does is check how well their drainage system is working, because that may help them detect whether they have a problem and how serious it is.

“Very little land is trafficable at the moment, so they do have time to do this.. In many fields water is lying on the surface or in tramlines, yet the drain outfalls and the dykes are hardly running.

“That’s a clear sign of compaction somewhere, be it a plough or disc pan or generally poor porosity. You must investigate it and detect how widespread and deep the problem is before considering the best way to tackle and correct it.

“What you do when you can get onto the land depends on the seriousness of the problem and the soil type, and that’s a decision that needs to be made on a field by field basis.

“One bright point is that – if the surface is wet but the subsoil is drier – you might not have to wait too long this spring for the sub-soil to dry out enough to be workable.

“People who have got their soil structure in good order report that crops are growing well because their roots are not water-logged. Those who have paid attention to detail in the past are earning their reward!”