How Do I Avoid the Wet Winter Slump?

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
The wet winter has really tested us this year on the heavy clay land.
We have different scenarios:
1. Ploughed nicely late summer, drilled a bit late in the autumn, November. Not terrible but a low plant population in the worst areas due to drowning. What had survived looks good but it’s too thin despite high seed rate. 6/10.
2. Ploughed nicely late summer, drilled in the spring. Once over with power Harrow but it had slumped solid and wet underneath, while rapidly drying to concrete on top. Looks rubbish now. Yellow poor rooting spring cereals that got another swilling by recent 4”. 3/10.
3. Direct drilled undisturbed stubbles in the spring. Fairly similar result to the over wintered ploughing. Solid and wet underneath, dried very rapidly to concrete on top making almost a 24 hour window for the direct drill and it had gone a bit hard. Doesn’t look great, low population 3/10.

4. Spring ploughed, and drilled with spring crops. Looks slightly better then the winter ploughed land. Hasn’t had time to slump underneath so took the 4” rain in May much better. But the seedbed was dry and knobbly and no weathering tilth so maybe 5/10.

5. Land worked with a stubble cultivator to 2 or 3” in the autumn.Direct drilled in the spring. This looks best of all despite not being loosened to any depth. There was reasonable tilth for the direct drill and it didn’t seem as wet underneath 7/10.

For the future I’m considering using stubble cultivator behind the combine again but also additionally followed by low disturbance subsoiler then something to leave it level but weather proof ready for “direct drilling” in autumn or spring after a spray off.
I’m considering a low disturbance tool bar in front of a power Harrow to leave it level, with the power Harrow not going at any depth but just knocking any ridging down. I don’t want to leave it fine. The hope is the low disturbance legs allow better infiltration without ruining the structure while the surface is level enough and broken down enough for a chit and direct drilling, but not so fine that it swills down through and blocks the fissures underneath.
If there is a machine that does this in one pass (Low disturbance loosening, surface left weatherproof, chitting, ready for spray off and direct drill in autumn or spring) without mixing blackgrass seed in to depth then I’d be interested to hear about it.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
Would a Sumo Trio do what I’m asking with low disturbance legs? Not that I’ve anything to pull one with, but could hire a big tractor and / machine/contractor and blitz it all straight behind combine then it’s job done till spray off and drill either autumn or spring with the undrill, which copes well with settled stale seedbeds.
Better then faffing with multiple passes and the dreaded power harrow?
Probably nearly answered my own question.
 
Last edited:

mo!

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
York
Would a Sumo Trio do what I’m asking with low disturbance legs? Not that I’ve anything to pull one with, but could hire a big tractor and / machine/contractor and blitz it all straight behind combine then it’s job done till spray off and drill either autumn or spring with the undrill, which copes well with settled stale seedbeds.
Better then faffing with multiple passes and the dreaded power harrow?
Probably nearly answered my own question.
That was my thought when you described what you are after. There will no doubt be plenty of folks to tell you that it won't work but set up correctly there's no reason that it won't do the job you're asking. Don't put a big tractor on it and blast up and down, 7-8k is fast enough, and get some Metcalfe NG legs on it.
 

kc6475

Member
Location
Notts
This all comes down to how well your land drains, we have a similar dilemma, after having all the farm in spring crops last year and half this then the conclusion I've come to is any land that is poor draining won't be ploughed any more for Spring crops, in a wet winter it just sits wet and come spring by the time you can get on it its concrete on top and a pudding underneath. we bought a shakerator a few years back and now probably 70% of land is ploughed and the rest done with the shakerator, the bean stubbles was done with the shakerator last backend ready for winter wheat, but never got chance to drill them but did get Spring tined up hoping to dry it out enough to drill. This spring I went back in and Spring tined the majority up again just leaving the really heavy clay patches and went straight into that with the power harrow, then drilled with the combi with the ph stuck in deep. The spring wheat looks great on land done with the shakerator and Spring tined before winter, the ploughed land that sat wet is no where near as good and suffered with all the rain in May.
 

David.

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
J11 M40
I have some poorly drained fields that I winter ploughed for last seasons spring barley, it set like concrete with the wet winter and dry spring, and had to be lifted with Kongskilde Delta to drill it.
This last winter I left it stubble and just did the Delta pass pre drilling. Apart from being much cheaper, It drilled beautifully into a good tilth.
Despite a good flush of autumn BG, and glyphosate off in November, there is still a good flush in the wet places now though.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
I have a Polish stubble cultivator which I think is very similar to a Kongskilde Delta. It does a great job on light land making a weatherproof drillable finish in one pass, any time of the year.
Direct into heavy land in the autumn it’s quite a strain on the legs and brings up some very large lumps which it can’t really breakdown. This doesn’t matter for spring drilling as it weathers down over winter. It doesn’t work deep and doesn’t do any compaction relief or subsoiling so doesn’t help infiltration. We’d considered using it on the ploughing in the spring but thought it would smear the wet stuff underneath and dry the surface out but maybe we should have tried it.
I’m more inclined though to seek a low disturbance leg, done when it’s dry in the autumn.
With the kit I’ve got I could stubble cultivate behind the combine as it won’t bury seed deep, then paraplow where necessary to alleviate compaction where it exists, or paraplow then stubble cultivate to level it, but it tends to bring up huge blocks if done after the paraplow. In that case discs are better as they don’t bring up blocks which was why I was considering a Trio type machine. My neighbours Trio left a corrugated but consolidated reasonably weatherproof water infiltrating surface. To me it looked the ideal solution but he sold it after a year. Must ask him why.
We’d still plough for autumn drilling where volunteers don’t matter such as a second wheat but we find with more wheat/barley sequences we end up with too many volunteers coming up from depth in the next crop. If we don’t plough early enough then there isn’t enough time for weathering.
Getting there after 50 years. Thanks for the ideas. I have some DD untouched stubbles on the go as well but it always seems to slump back together even after a dry summer. All undersdrained but seal over the porous fill easily. When we had loads of staff then somebody would be on the hard areas with the Ransomes subsoiler pre ploughing but nowadays there doesn’t seem to be much time for all that hence looking for one pass, spray off and drill.
 

jh.

Member
Location
fife
Pre Christmas ploughing gives us our best spring crops here . Last 2 winters have been so wet , we haven't managed this even with 200hp on a 4 furrow . Spring ploughing bakes out and leads to very patchy emergence no matter how well we think we time passes .

Last year a claydon demo with tines gave a very good spring barley emergence and crop but brackled at harvest . Got them back and paid for a 2nd demo this year with twin tine demo and once again looks great but is a nightmare for stones requiring a dump trailer to lift them .

A direct horsch avatar demo got off to a tremendous start with probably the most even emergence of any but has now suffered we've had rain and wheelings from last harvest really showing up now . It was only able to drill at about 4 or 5kph to get penetration .

Where I've mintilled soils I couldn't get winter ploughed , I'm happy with emergence and crop so far but broad leaf weeds and meadow grass have taken off , so not sure how good it would be long term
 

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
The words "poor drainage" have been mentioned 3 times, but all the talk is of cultivators?
The drains are pretty good by and large but the water just can’t seem to get to them quickly enough. They are minimum 28” deep with what looks like about 9” of steelworks slag porous fill on them. I’ve opened them downstream of a ponded area and they are only trickling and clear. Subsoiling carefully across the drains to go through the slag does help locally in the heavy areas but fine line between hitting the drain or not hitting the slag. . We have too much sand in the same fields to run a mole to the dykes. That sand can also silt up the drains and slow them down.
I sometimes wonder whether my old low disturbance Ransomes subsoiler kind of moling across the drains in heavy areas when it’s dry on top , followed by the stubble cultivator (terra disc) might be as good as it gets on my budget and horsepower.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
Certainly a lot of it is down to unprecedented winter rainfall. 2018 /19 was our last dry one and there wasn’t a problem. But last two winters have really tested our system.
Realistically though we can do nothing here after 4th October most years.
 

adam_farming

Member
Location
Suffolk
The drains are pretty good by and large but the water just can’t seem to get to them quickly enough. They are minimum 28” deep with what looks like about 9” of steelworks slag porous fill on them. I’ve opened them downstream of a ponded area and they are only trickling and clear. Subsoiling carefully across the drains to go through the slag does help locally in the heavy areas but fine line between hitting the drain or not hitting the slag. . We have too much sand in the same fields to run a mole to the dykes. That sand can also silt up the drains and slow them down.
I sometimes wonder whether my old low disturbance Ransomes subsoiler kind of moling across the drains in heavy areas when it’s dry on top , followed by the stubble cultivator (terra disc) might be as good as it gets on my budget and horsepower.


Fair enough, sometimes in similar other situations the obvious thing seems to get missed; a week in Sweden at the Vaderstad factory is more appealing than a week unblocking and maintaining drains but one is far more conducive to production in the long run than the other
 

DrWazzock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
Fair enough, sometimes in similar other situations the obvious thing seems to get missed; a week in Sweden at the Vaderstad factory is more appealing than a week unblocking and maintaining drains but one is far more conducive to production in the long run than the other
There is always room for improvement on the drainage system here. Laid in the 1970’s and requires attention at times. Getting time to attend to it is the limitation but I find it quite satisfying as a job.
Maybe now there isn’t new chemicals coming out every year to allow early drilling of winter cereals some soils just aren’t suitable for cropping anymore and should be grass or environment stuff (I ponder this sometimes on our nastiest soils)
I agree. It would be better left in grass, if we are sensible about it. It will go back to that once we’ve disrupted the livestock’s parasites life cycles.
 

adam_farming

Member
Location
Suffolk
There is always room for improvement on the drainage system here. Laid in the 1970’s and requires attention at times. Getting time to attend to it is the limitation but I find it quite satisfying as a job.


The bit I'm taking on here this autumn is relatively heavy clay too and sits wet. No one can remember the last time anything was done to the drainage system that apparently exists underneath, so this winter will be plenty of weekends with a digger and spade just trying to understand it and sort it out, which should make life easier going forwards
 

Speculative coverage on the gene editing consultation response

  • 26
  • 0
Speculative coverage on the gene editing consultation response

Written by Defra Press Office

image-of-a-field-620x413.jpg


There has been coverage today in the I and the Guardian, reporting on speculation around the upcoming government response to the recent Gene Editing consultation, which closed on 17th March.

A full government response, which will include a thorough analysis and summary of the responses to the consultation and which will set out our next steps, will be published in due course.

Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, such as breeding...
Top