Choosing the most suitable cultivation and drilling equipment to establish crops correctly is far from straightforward and is arguably getting more complex due to the many competing factors involved.
From the vagaries of the weather and variability of soils across farms or individual fields, to the complexities of grass weed control, soil improvement, cover cropping and a trend to more spring cropping on heavy land, it is virtually impossible to find a system to suit every situation and soil type.
Minimising soil disturbance is widely seen as a key strategy in controlling black-grass and there are many machines now available offering this. Equally, creating seedbeds for spring crops in the autumn to allow the drill to go straight in come spring is a popular approach on more farms, while plenty of others still operate plough or other deep cultivation-based systems.
Whatever the system, make or model, flexibility is key. We need cultivation systems and machines that can cater for different soil types, weather, drilling dates, crops and weed pressures.
Some farmers may be able to buy separate equipment to give this flexibility, but for others it is a case of choosing equipment that can be adapted to the conditions. For example, many Vaderstad Rapid or Horsch-type drills include discs or tines that can be lifted out of work when not required or conditions aren’t suitable. Drills with a common hopper and metering system that can be fitted with discs or tines according to the situation are another popular option.
Don’t be swayed by glossy brochures and slick sales pitches. Choosing the best kit and system requires identifying all the factors at play before deciding on the most appropriate solution for your farm. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune, but it does require time and thought to get it right.
Philip will be chairing the Crop Establishment sessions at The CropTec Show, sponsored by Horsch – he will cover technical aspects of different tillage scenarios;
The crop establishment seminars will include the following speakers: Jacqueline Stroud, soil scientist, Rothamsted Research, who will talk us through looking after soil health and biology is key to maintaining profitability; Brian Barker, one of the ‘Barker Boys will give us his take on getting crops off to the best start, while keeping an eye on costs, fuel use, peak workload and emissions.