Friday, 21 October 2016

Zerotill Barley

I have to say that I am really pleased with the way the winter barley has emerged this autumn. Drilling started on the top of Bredon Hill on the 22nd September and continues down in the Vale a couple of days later.  This field is down behind Beckford and is following spring barley, which is normal in the rotation.  Oilseed rape will follow this crop.  The barley is destined to be harvested in July 2017 and will hopefully make the grade for Molson Coors Growers group and Carling.  The planting machine (or drill) planted these fields with a target of placing 350 seeds/m2.  We have been using variable rate seeding depending on soil type.  This system uses GPS technology to locate the tractor and change the seed rate depending on the prescription that it has been loaded onto the on board computer. 
With the crop having established so well it will certainly be able to fend off any slugs that might try and eat the leaves.  We did apply one application to the surface after the crop had been planted to protect the seedlings.  Now it's a case of watching and waiting to see what weeds appear through the straw mulch, in an ideal world there won't be any that are too expensive to control.  We will have to wait and see. 
There are so many benefits to the environment in farming this way; the soil is covered and therefore protected from erosion, the straw acts as a mulch reducing weed competition and the residue (previous straw and leaves)breakdown acts as a brilliant source of food for the arm of worms growing under the soil surface.  

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