Best "crop" for building OM?

steveR

Member
Mixed Farmer
The question has come out from a discussion I have had locally where STW need to "stockpile" water on the land, as they are taking so much out from local boreholes, that the water flow has dropped in a specific water course. The chap organising the scheme seems to be a bit focused on glorified reserves/reservoirs and hard landscape measures which will not succeed I reckon, without big funding.

One of the ideas that might have legs with landowners, is to create "buffer" strips or areas on land that drains into the watercourse that will retain rainfall and slowly release back. I suggested say, "within 500m of the watercourse", as a "Blue Sky thinking" suggestion, based I would add, on absolute zero research! :)

If something like this was to be a goer, then what is the best "crop" to plant. I assume PP would hit the mark, and maybe even trees? But I suspect neither will be popular, and trees/SRC is problematic as readers will be aware as the land is effectivel sterilised afterwards.

So what would build OM long term in the soil, but is still an "arable" cropping option? The comment about miscanthus made me wonder about this type of biomass, but leave it on the field to rapidly increase OM?

Ideas?
 

DanM

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Country
The question has come out from a discussion I have had locally where STW need to "stockpile" water on the land, as they are taking so much out from local boreholes, that the water flow has dropped in a specific water course. The chap organising the scheme seems to be a bit focused on glorified reserves/reservoirs and hard landscape measures which will not succeed I reckon, without big funding.

One of the ideas that might have legs with landowners, is to create "buffer" strips or areas on land that drains into the watercourse that will retain rainfall and slowly release back. I suggested say, "within 500m of the watercourse", as a "Blue Sky thinking" suggestion, based I would add, on absolute zero research! :)

If something like this was to be a goer, then what is the best "crop" to plant. I assume PP would hit the mark, and maybe even trees? But I suspect neither will be popular, and trees/SRC is problematic as readers will be aware as the land is effectivel sterilised afterwards.

So what would build OM long term in the soil, but is still an "arable" cropping option? The comment about miscanthus made me wonder about this type of biomass, but leave it on the field to rapidly increase OM?

Ideas?

Maize, sorghum, sunflowers or a mix of all 3 if mulched back in would give you lots of biomass, especially if they were understory cropped with grass.
Not sure if anyone has ever done any research into what organic matter a crop removes during growth, versus what the grown crop then returns if not harvested?
 
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steveR

Member
Mixed Farmer
Maize, sorghum, sunflowers or a mix of all 3 if mulched back in would give you lots of biomass, especially if they were understory cropped with grass.
Not sure if anyone has ever done any research into what organic matter a crop removes during growth, versus what the grown crop then returns if not harvested?

Interesting plant mix. Would need redrilling each year, and this might be an issue? DD into that level of mulch!!

You might think the Americans might have done some work on this...
 

DanM

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Country
Interesting plant mix. Would need redrilling each year, and this might be an issue? DD into that level of mulch!!

You might think the Americans might have done some work on this...

The annual redrilling part would keep the arable farmer interest and the mulch would certainly get your earthworms working!
It’s an area of research I think would have huge value with regards to future direction for agriculture
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer

No wot

Member
When establishing a Summer/Autumn cover crop was an option for claiming EU sub , I spun some oats & vetches on winter oat stubble and disced them in , they came very well , sown early August and ploughed in end of Oct , there was alot of cover ploughed back in , but what i really remembered was the mass of root structure from the oats almost like when ploughing grass , wether this increased OM don't know but would say it did .
 

clbarclay

Member
Location
Worcestershire
I have never known anything better than rhubarb to increase soil OM, incredible stuff.
Fertiliser bill will make you sit down though, it likes circa 500kg AN/acre a year.
I do wonder whether it would be ecological better not to plant anything (just let weeds grow) than planting anything with that much artificial fertiliser.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
I do wonder whether it would be ecological better not to plant anything (just let weeds grow) than planting anything with that much artificial fertiliser.
Ecologically you could probably say it about any crop, won't give you much food or make much money though.
You can grow it with less but there is an economic benefit to apply that much.
 

WildSussex

Member
Mixed Farmer
I do wonder whether it would be ecological better not to plant anything (just let weeds grow) than planting anything with that much artificial fertiliser.
Agreed, that just seems mental. Not to mention you can often find rhubarb growing out of cracks in concrete/seems like it can grown anywhere
 

clbarclay

Member
Location
Worcestershire
Agreed, that just seems mental. Not to mention you can often find rhubarb growing out of cracks in concrete/seems like it can grown anywhere
Whether it will grow or not without any, some niche crops can consume vast amounts of fertiliser to produce a commercially desirable product.

I have heard of farms that on paper spread a lot of nitrogen on grass to balance all the records when growing crops like that which consume far more nitrogen per ha than most arable farmers or legislators can comprehend.

Supply and demand can seem like a crazy world. Then again, this probably is a crazy world.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Whether it will grow or not without any, some niche crops can consume vast amounts of fertiliser to produce a commercially desirable product.

I have heard of farms that on paper spread a lot of nitrogen on grass to balance all the records when growing crops like that which consume far more nitrogen per ha than most arable farmers or legislators can comprehend.

Supply and demand can seem like a crazy world. Then again, this probably is a crazy world.
I've seen 2T/ha applied annually to lily crops... 2T of AN 😳😳 that was on alluvial soils over gravel

in the same catchment farmers were copping flak for using over 100kgN as urea across a season, despite the local council being aware of where the nitrate was coming from, it didn't fit the "dirty dairy" narrative

bit of an aside but there you go
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
If you know what you are doing you should be able to make £5k profit on an acre of rhubarb each year (not the first year while it establishes), treat it as a 3-5 year crop and then dig it up and split the roots for circa £10-15k profit assuming you keep enough back for the next planting. (and I do mean profit not income)
Half a ton of Nitram even at current prices is feck all and the next crop grows like mad due to the OM and probably residual N. I doubt much washes away as rhubarb can't get enough water so none washes through. Make the next crop raspberries or strawberries and you are making more per acre than any cereal grower can imagine.
Next time someone comes on here and says "I just bought 2 acres of land, how can I make enough profit to build a house on it?" just nudge that Welsh straw dealer and ask if he knows.
 

Dead Rabbits

Member
Location
'Merica
Why are there hardly any ponds over there? In the US there are man made ponds everywhere. They help slowly release water and have a bunch of other uses. Haven’t seen all of the UK but don’t remember seeing many ponds at all. Seems to all be focused on drainage

Increasing the water holding capacity and infiltration rate of soil can never be a bad thing. But why do we need certain areas for this and certain areas to grow a crop? Why can’t it be both improving the soil and producing a crop?
 

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HSENI names new farm safety champions

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...
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