Cover crops on heavy land

Hjwise

Member
Mixed Farmer
Does anyone really put cover crops on heavy land other than the odd person trying to get a page in Farmers Weekly or some extremist DDer??

My short lived experiment has just given me a headache with few obvious benefits. Stubble turnips, oats, vetch etc grew tall and thick - didn’t get an opportunity to spray off early so put some sheep on it. The pittance I got for that won’t nearly cover the cost of the cultivation now needed. As far as I can see, most of the benefits left with the sheep. I’m now left with what looks and feels like a solid lump of cheese.

My unscientific and probably uninformed conclusion is that cover crops are for people on light soils who don’t spread muck.

The end.
 

Against_the_grain

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
S.E
Does anyone really put cover crops on heavy land other than the odd person trying to get a page in Farmers Weekly or some extremist DDer??

My short lived experiment has just given me a headache with few obvious benefits. Stubble turnips, oats, vetch etc grew tall and thick - didn’t get an opportunity to spray off early so put some sheep on it. The pittance I got for that won’t nearly cover the cost of the cultivation now needed. As far as I can see, most of the benefits left with the sheep. I’m now left with what looks and feels like a solid lump of cheese.

My unscientific and probably uninformed conclusion is that cover crops are for people on light soils who don’t spread muck.

The end.
I think I agree with you. Tried them in the past and they just keep the ground from drying out in the spring imo. If the sun and wind can't get to the soil the moisture can't escape.
 

Salopian_Will

Member
BASIS
Location
Shropshire
Does anyone really put cover crops on heavy land other than the odd person trying to get a page in Farmers Weekly or some extremist DDer??

My short lived experiment has just given me a headache with few obvious benefits. Stubble turnips, oats, vetch etc grew tall and thick - didn’t get an opportunity to spray off early so put some sheep on it. The pittance I got for that won’t nearly cover the cost of the cultivation now needed. As far as I can see, most of the benefits left with the sheep. I’m now left with what looks and feels like a solid lump of cheese.

My unscientific and probably uninformed conclusion is that cover crops are for people on light soils who don’t spread muck.

The end.
I agree broadly. This seasons were desiccated on 5th December for drilling now. I’m hoping that the rotting biomass has given something for the worms to munch on and the soil does look ‘nice’.
 

mo!

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
York
Grown some on some Foggathorpe silty clay this year. Trio and combi drilled as soon as we got the barley off. Plenty of muck. Sprayed off November I think. The ground looks better than it has for years, almost no water stood and we should.get some beans in after a tickle with a drag. I would think a strip drill would go straight in.
 

snarling bee

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Bedfordshire
My limited experience is that they cost more than they gain.
Cover crop fallow this last year cost me approx £100 ha in seed, topping and extra cultivations/drilling. Will it gain me that in the next crop - No - not even at £400 tonne for wheat. Crop seems even more in needy of early N than a second or continuous wheat.
Common reasons for cover crops just do not fit
Stop soil erosion - our soils rarely erode
Drain better - the only way to drain 50% clay over 22m of solid clay subsoil is to drain it and mole drain it.
Retain moisture - I want to loose it
Recycle nutrients - I guess it might, but I need a crop to take advantage, see above.
Improve OM - if I live to be 156

Sorry, head in the sand and all that.
 

ben__adamss

Member
BASE UK Member
If you are going to do cover crops on heavy land you want to use species that either winter kill (buckwheat/spring linseed/spring peas/quinoa) or spray it off in Dec/Jan
If you are going to graze you will only get back £10-15/ha from grazing, best to get them to graze 50% then move them quick before they start poaching
 

tr250

Member
Location
Northants
We do cover crops on clay and find it works quite well but we are a mixed farm so we own the sheep and it bridges a hungry gap for them. Just don’t expect to drill until April
 
depends what crop follows and the cover
cover crop pays £ 114 per ha in stewardship
in notill where drilling later in the spring is an essential element a cover crop is better than natural regeneration or bare land
for later planted spring crops in a dry year the dying cover crop and straw prevents the top drying out too much
in wet years later drilling does not suffer from drought
if Blackgass is the reason for a spring crop do not drill it early May as well plant an october winter crop




early drilling in spring crops is of benefit on light land in dry years traditional spring cropping not the subject of the op
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
Catch crops before a winter crop, after osr befor wheat for example work really well, as an example autumn 2020, when no one else was drilling because it was too wet on the clays we were able to keep nibbling away with the disc drill being kept clean by the green. In the end we got in 250ha of wheat we would have had otherwise, caused minimal soil damage and had a crop that yielded 9.96t/ha over those hectares.
In terms of over winter cover crops, trying to drill into them green in the spring really doesn’t work well, as others have mentioned. Spray them off around Christmas (January this year) and now we are drilling into some reasonable conditions. My advice would be careful what you plant, and don’t spend crazy amounts of money.
Cover crops are a long term strategy and to try and out a monetary figure on it is difficult in the following crop. You are aiming to get the nutrients and biological cycles going. They can work if you are careful but I do agree there is an element of risk there.
You can get paid in CS to have them which is £114 and they do increase the amount of carbon sequestered on the carbon certification algorithms which then gives you more carbon to sell.
Of course these two things are irrelevant if you are losing crop yield.
Don’t grow mustard as a cover crop on clay!
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
depends what crop follows and the cover
cover crop pays £ 114 per ha in stewardship
in notill where drilling later in the spring is an essential element a cover crop is better than natural regeneration or bare land
for later planted spring crops in a dry year the dying cover crop and straw prevents the top drying out too much
in wet years later drilling does not suffer from drought
if Blackgass is the reason for a spring crop do not drill it early May as well plant an october winter crop




early drilling in spring crops is of benefit on light land in dry years traditional spring cropping not the subject of the op
I disagree with you on the may drilling, I’ve seen shocking results with that technique.
 
Does anyone really put cover crops on heavy land other than the odd person trying to get a page in Farmers Weekly or some extremist DDer??

My short lived experiment has just given me a headache with few obvious benefits. Stubble turnips, oats, vetch etc grew tall and thick - didn’t get an opportunity to spray off early so put some sheep on it. The pittance I got for that won’t nearly cover the cost of the cultivation now needed. As far as I can see, most of the benefits left with the sheep. I’m now left with what looks and feels like a solid lump of cheese.

My unscientific and probably uninformed conclusion is that cover crops are for people on light soils who don’t spread muck.

The end.
@Case290
 
I don't do them if sowing spring barley. A grass cover crop works well before beans for my soil.

Ideally any cover before spring barley needs to be eaten by a sheep but at the moment it's better to keep brassica out of rotation to help the osr.

Remember a lot of cover crop data has come from USA which has hot summers, cold winters, short season crops and high evapotranspiration quickly or South America which has tropical rainstorms and short season crops.

So it entirely depends on the climate, the previous crop, the next crop, the rotation and the humidity.
 

Against_the_grain

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
S.E
Catch crops before a winter crop, after osr befor wheat for example work really well, as an example autumn 2020, when no one else was drilling because it was too wet on the clays we were able to keep nibbling away with the disc drill being kept clean by the green. In the end we got in 250ha of wheat we would have had otherwise, caused minimal soil damage and had a crop that yielded 9.96t/ha over those hectares.
What catch crops did you plant into his case? Buckwheat/phacellia/millet?
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
What catch crops did you plant into his case? Buckwheat/phacellia/millet?
Buckwheat, linseed, sunflower and of course osr volunteers. I think the mix cost about £11/ha.
slugs although seemed huge numbers weren’t too bad as they ate the green stuff.
Most problems this year where there was no kind of green cover meaning slugs only had wheat to eat.
 

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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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