Hello from mid Suffolk

Hi, I farm 360ha in Mid Suffolk, predominantly on clay soils, all hanslope associated (some Ashley, Newport traits too) but we also recently rented some land which is a sandy loam.
I came back to the family farm 8 years ago, having done an engineering degree, and worked in ag machinery sector first.
Our tillage regime has always been of the mantle that "this land needs ploughing up and drying through" which has then always created the problem of what to do with a load of solid horses heads. So for about the last 20yrs we have been ploughing, followed by culti press, normally twice, sometimes 3x in front of the drill. Spring cropping is ploughed and the winter did the work, so a vaddy nz would create a seedbed.
Our system now involves a plough, knight m press and Horsch express drill. We have 2 rotations, land with s beet is ww, ww, sbeet, sbarley, wosr. Land without beet is ww, ww, sbeans, ww, wb, wosr.
5 years ago I persuaded the old guard to let me experiment with non inversion tillage. This involves rotational ploughing for the beet, and never ploughing some land not in beet. I was a little canny in my little by little approach, as my end game is to stop cultivating altogether, but I believe this is a gradual step.
So in my trialled areas on the farm, I started with mole drainer, then subsoiled before the osr, did 2 x 3" deep pass with the knight before the 1st and second wheats, and now we have cut back beet quota, so I dd some oil radish in, and hope to dd sbarley into this in the spring.
On all the land now for 1st wheat we have ditched the plough in favour of 2 passes with the knight in front of the drill, but have found this land walks very wet in the winter. However, last year (1st year) yield was great, and it travelled sooner in spring. The spade has told me that the water is held up at whatever depth we have cultivated, 3-4" after the knight, and 8-9" where ploughed.
In a roundabout way, this is why I have ended up here. The soil structure behind my cc is wonderful, so why cultivate? My concerns are, although I'm sure I can establish a crop, will it yield? And, will my Horsch express (basically a mounted pronto) create a disc pan holding up the water? Love the look of the T-sem, will try it inthe autumn, but reading some posts makes me think any soil disturbance is the antichrist!
I have enjoyed reading and learning from your posts, and firmly believe that we can all help each other.
And if anyone can suggest a break crop with a better margin than beet (trust me, I love numbers, and have unsuccessfully tried to make them look bad taking into account extra cultivations, loss of yield in following crops, track repairs etc) then I would embrace it with open arms.........
 

martian

DD Moderator
Location
N Herts
I think you will struggle to find a break crop with a better margin than beet, but you would probably find your whole rotation was much more profitable if you could drop it and build a good no-till system...but, then, I'm a zealot.
We've never grown beet here, but just got accounts back for harvest 2013 and pleased to see fixed costs are £100/ha below the 'top 25%' average, whilst income is average for the top 25%, resulting in a happy tax man. You might need to get a hobby too, with all the spare time...
 
I'm trying to make it my mission to improve my spring bean margins so I can drop them! Thought this year was the year when the offer came through at 24/ton, but then everything else dropped too! As for the spare time, i have 3 children under 4, I reckon I could fill it!
 

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