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How many farms are using voluntary / unpaid fallow in their rotation?

Discussion in 'Cropping' started by Feldspar, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. Would you plant some sort of fertility building cover crop in the fallow year? Just thinking that our heavy land might be quite sad if just left alone. Cheap cover crop planted when machinery not doing anything else (if that occurs) might be an option.
     
  2. curlietailz

    curlietailz Member

    Location:
    Sedgefield
    So far we have just left it as stubble
    But heavy land is sad after and needs subsoiing
    But we are looking at mustard/mix as a bit of nitrogen fixing /soil conditioning etc


     
    Feldspar likes this.
  3. Wombat

    Wombat Member

    Location:
    East yorks
    You could but not allowed from this year.

    I will flail it once, then run the disc through once a month to kill the BG

    Although most of was grassed down last autumn I will top in May then take a cut of silage off it after 1st July
     
    Feldspar likes this.
  4. Hindsight

    Hindsight Member

    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    The change in EFA rules prohibiting use of pesticides (glyphosate) during the EFA period make managing grass seed return very difficult. But why are (were) any of you using pulses / fallow for EFA. Buffer strips - in previous years had to be adjacent to watercourse but now more flexible adjacent to any boundary and hedges. Intrigued genuine question?

    That way pulses and fallow can be treated as required with pesticides. .
     
  5. curlietailz

    curlietailz Member

    Location:
    Sedgefield
    Hindsight.....
    We use fallow as a third crop so just piggy backed the EFA onto it
    Our rotation until last year was wheat wheat (wheat) OSR and fallow made an easy third crop ( lazy I know)...... (But put in context.... My husband died and I took over the running of the farm, so it suited me to keep things as simple as possible while I got to grips with the task ! )
    But last year we put barley in as a better entry to OSR so it's not important as we have 3 crops now
    But it was so wet last autumn we didn't get fully sown up ( although all bought seed was used up) so have put fallow/stubble in again

    Will have to look closely at the new rules as we feel a mustard mix will be better for the land in EFA / and margins/corners etc

    Don't want to look at anything else ( beans peas grass linseed etc as it wouldn't easily fit in our operation
     
    rose pilchett likes this.
  6. Hindsight

    Hindsight Member

    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Thankyou for reply. I am sorry to hear of your sad loss.

    I had assumed that the use of fallow for EFA was because it was simple to complete the BPS form. I had a few similar forms but last spring I spent time entering the hedges / buffers to get them prepopulated for 2018. Be a quite straightforward exercise. In you position I would use margins and hedges to maximum for EFA, then top up with cover crops if required - you will probably find can get all EFA from the hedges and margins. That way you would not have any constraints placed on management of the covers.

    But as ever, each to their own. I only asked as I am always interested when folk post on here different things to what I do in case I am either doing something wrong or missing a trick.

    Best wishes,
     
  7. bankrupt

    bankrupt Member

    Location:
    EX17/20
    Not whole farm, Feldspar, but one heavy block here's been on wheat-fallow for 30 years.

    Over that time it's been as profitable as anything else.

    Big advantage is all work done in the dry and no damage to the drainage systems, so far.

    Can't replicate this much further because lighter patches elsewhere on the farm always seem to attract drought to every-other-year cropping.

    (y)
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
    Feldspar likes this.
  8. e3120

    e3120 Member

    Location:
    Northumberland
    Do you just leave it as stubble, and when/with what do you hit it next?
     
  9. Y Fan Wen

    Y Fan Wen Member

    Location:
    N W Snowdonia
    In college in Shropshire in the 60s, I learned that a fallow was gradually worked down to a seedbed from July onwards, when the long hot dry days (yes, I know) would dessicate weeds as they germinated. Can you still have fallows managed like that if you have them as part of your enviro scheme? As you can see, arable doesn't figure large in farming round here!
     
  10. bankrupt

    bankrupt Member

    Location:
    EX17/20
    Over-wintered stubble.

    Sort out odd drain blow-ups when dry.

    Re-mole as needed when SMD first suitable.

    Add lime, sludge, dung as required.

    Plough during first or second Test Match.

    Work it over a bit during a dry harvest - if a wet one leave well alone.

    Plant 20th September.
     
    e3120 and Flat 10 like this.
  11. static

    static Member

    Location:
    Lincoln-ish.
    I use fallow for greening. It is not bare land. I use established, temporary grassland. Tidied up before the fallow period date and managed as per the rules it can still be of some use. I tend to use grass that is due to be ploughed out that season. Works well. Certainly better than beans.
     
  12. Would you do it even if you didn't have to for EFAs?
     
  13. static

    static Member

    Location:
    Lincoln-ish.
    Doubt it. I dont think there is the benefit to be had from leaving heavy land bare, and I am thinking the best cover crop is grass. Once you start to find ways to make grass pay then the need for fallow falls away.

    Argument would be different if my BPS covered my rent.

    You could consider that the fallow would reduce the need for graminicides; reduce seed rates for OSR so you could make a case for an arable fallow. I have fallowed some in the past outsdie any scheme and it has pretty much eliminated blackgrass from that part of the farm.
     
    bankrupt likes this.
  14. bankrupt

    bankrupt Member

    Location:
    EX17/20
    Good point, static.

    Fortunately, after years of frustration, we've finally got our rental equivalent down below the BPS.

    However, adding 10% acreage, as has Feldspar, would put the rental equivalent round here up by £30/acre overall and kill our cashflow by £70/acre (after tax) on a 20yr mortgage.
     
    Adeptandy likes this.
  15. static

    static Member

    Location:
    Lincoln-ish.
    I have a rent that would make you all cry.
     
  16. Why would the economics of a fallow change depending on what rent you pay (assuming you are going to be farming the ground for some time)? If beans are profitable when paying a large rent, and if they are more profitable than fallow, then that should still be the same if paying no rent. What am I missing?
     
  17. static

    static Member

    Location:
    Lincoln-ish.
    Rent, HP, insurance, etc are all fixed and sunk costs in year 1. They are to pay cropped or not. It is not true to say that a crop of beans making no profit is the same as a field of fallow making no profit. If the beans make no profit then at least I have paid my machinery and my wage.

    Lets say beans at £150ac rent break even.
    Beans at £80ac rent pay £70
    Fallow at £150ac looses £60
    Fallow at £80ac pays £10 (this year)

    If my rent is £80 then I can fallow for a small profit. If my rent is £150 then I grow the beans as even if I make no cash profit then I accrue some of the cost of growing by paying off HP or attributing some of the land work to my labour.

    The beans fix a tenner per acre nitrogen. The fallow certainly allows you to (for OSR) cut out the graminicide and probably half your seed rate. For wheat, depends on how good your beans weed control is.

    Some people, when growing beans, might take the "fixed" nitrogen into account for working out the margin of their beans. I do this with any fallow but it's still a fairly drastic step to take.
     
    JCMaloney likes this.
  18. KennyO

    KennyO Member

    Location:
    Angus
    @Feldspar was Just thinking about this (but slightly differently) when walking dog this morning.

    Could we grass down a lot of our headlands and use them as our silage ground. Would make fields much more efficient for cropping as we could turn on grass but would make grazing difficult. We currently use fallow grass margins for our efa but different rules up here.
     
  19. static

    static Member

    Location:
    Lincoln-ish.
    I have seen several farms where the headlands were grass and were mown and baled as schemes allowed.

    With rules on spraying and spreading, and almost certainly soon for fert by watercourses it makes some sense to grass headlands wide enough to get a set of mowers around them.

    I also believe that this is a historic practise in some counties where they would turn the horses on the grass for ploughing the arable, and then make hay from the margins.
     
    KennyO and Flat 10 like this.
  20. homefarm

    homefarm Member

    Location:
    N.West
    In the situation you describe why would you take land in hand to fallow it.
    Fallow does have costs and you loose the rental income how can this work?
     
    Laggard likes this.

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