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Is that the real picture?

Discussion in 'Direct Drilling General Discussion' started by SorenIlsoe, Jul 10, 2018 at 6:05 PM.

  1. SorenIlsoe

    SorenIlsoe Member

  2. SoilMan

    SoilMan Member

    Kings Lynn
    I'm not a farmer so can't comment from a "having tried it myself" point of view. But having been lucky enough visit a lot of the U.K. No tillers and been to acres I've not necessarily found this to be the case on properly implemented no till systems, system being the key word I think.

    No till on it's own and viewed as purely a drill change I would say you are more likely to see a yield drop but if viewed as a proper system whereby rotation, soil inputs and soil health are considered I'd say it's generally worked very well. But being a no till system I would say some still use some sort of light or surface cultivation at one time or another? But only using it as an aid to soil structure/the system.

    But that is just my rose tinted view
    chaffcutter likes this.
  3. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    As in that a article (fancy FW actually printing my name BTW !) I have not seen yields drop, the opposite in fact. My data is not in Garry's benchmarking yet as I ran out of time to supply it before Groundswell but it will be in the future and I think this no-till benchmarking could be a very valuable thing
    SorenIlsoe likes this.
  4. yes - this is it. It is all part of a system, their is no such thing as a single silver bullet approach
    Rather than a reductionist attitude of breaking everything down into ' singles ' & dealing with the individually, it is about looking holistically & realise all of the 'wholes' are interconnected. This is the only way zero till / direct drill can truly work & achieve its potential

    heres an interesting video clip - yes, Australian I know, but we have been doing it as mainstream for something like 30 years & there are relevant points no matter where you are. If you only watch one bit, then watch at around 4.40, 7.41, 8.18 & 9.00

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018 at 9:39 AM
  5. I'm not a fan of benchmarking but I am a big fan of low cost farming techniques and a big pile of grain. I don't like benchmarking because sometimes fields don't yield the same, sometimes you can drop a fungicide out and sometimes can't etc.. I think its more important to review how low your cost can potentially go continually.

    What I can tell you is that on my farm all crops are totally capable of producing high yields very close to or beating that headline yield figre. What I can also say its unlikely to do it every acre every year.

    My rule of thumb - if you can get better or the same yields than your conventional neighbour then crack on.

    I also agree with Farmer Roy - and this is the "its not a religion" bit that I think people get wrong - when you no till you need to think about what you do and why a bit more. When it goes well it goes very well.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018 at 10:29 AM
    Clive likes this.
  6. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    great video, thanks for sharing

    How do you find losses with the stripper ? I have tried in the past but losses were high, I love the idea of the strip / disc combo though and desperately need more combine capacity plus residue spreading at 12m is the biggest issue we currently face in our system so maybe I should re investigate ways to make it work in the UK ?
  7. I've said it before but the stripper header HAS to be the most sensible option for anyone involving themselves in no till. On lighter and thirstier land then surely having that standing straw/residue is the absolutely best option as it will shield the soil?

    There must be a way of mitigating or reducing the header losses or they would simply never sell the things!?
    Kiwi Pete and Farmer Roy like this.
  8. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    The looses are mitigated by increased machine capacity I guess / lower harvest cost

    Maybe worse on some situations / years than others

    We ran a 28ft which was too small for the combine and at the time no contour control was available which didnt help the losses situation on undulating ground

    It’s something I would love to try again now I have much more experience of the notill system and extra acres which if we could avoid additional combines could more than save the cost of losses
    Kiwi Pete, ollie989898 and Farmer Roy like this.
  9. I personally don't have any experience with a stripper front, I rely on contractors for my harvesting so I am dependent on what they have.
    I am not aware of any in this area ( although I know they are gaining popularity further west in more cereal dominated areas ). We grow quite a variety of combinable crops ( just for an example, cereals only make up about 25% of my arable area ) & Im not sure many farmers or contractors could justify another front at the moment. 12m fronts aren't cheap ;)

    yes, spreading residue over 12m is a nightmare, and one of the issues we face as well. I am also a planting contractor, so I regularly come across many problems with poor spreading of residue.

    However - they are getting a lot of publicity lately ( as that video shows ) & I haven't heard anything about crop losses. Although not in your yield range, the crops harvested by them would range from say < 2t / ha - 5 or 6 t / ha

    If you are serious about finding more information about the stripper fronts, contact Grant Sims, one of the farmers in that vid. He is on twitter as grant sims @grant_sims. I saw him speak a few weeks ago at an event & he is very enthusiastic about what he does. I know our environments are very different, but there is a LOT of long term knowledge on large areas over here, there may be something of value for you
    Clive likes this.
  10. that's how farming & zero till work here - everyone sharing their knowledge & helping each other out.
    Dunno about the UK, but here other farmers are your " mates ", not the competition ( that's the US & Black Sea :) )
    Rihards, SimonD and Clive like this.
  11. ajd132

    ajd132 Member

    Clive, on the strippe header front us and another local farmer of same acerage have now got a 12m one. He is fully committed to zero till so will be doing a lot with it (spring barley and spring oats) we are going to trial a 100ha then zero till after to see how we get on. The aim is to spread our workload between the two combines as zero till stuff is a week or two behind my shallow till stuff that was drilled earlier. Think we need to try this stuff and share machinery between us to actually be able to afford to experiment more. It's going on a JD combine, it helps being in the same town as shelbourne.
  12. ajd132

    ajd132 Member

    To add, main difference between the two farms is the other one is fully owned whilst ours is mainly rented and contract farmed hence why we are playing it safer on the no till front.
    Brisel, static and Farmer Roy like this.
  13. What size combine is 'required' to work with a 12 metre stripper header?
  14. SorenIlsoe

    SorenIlsoe Member

    Excactly - I agree. It is a system (Conservation Agriculture), where all the elements has to be applied and not just changing a drill.
  15. SimonD

    SimonD Member

    They need to revisit the benchmarking exercise once the system is mature and the necessary learning from experience incorporated into the processes as I think you'll get a different picture regarding yield delivered. Getting the mindset right that it's a systems approach, rather than simply changing the drill is going to be key in this style of production and judging yield from establishment costs could be misleading in an immature system.
    SilliamWhale and Brisel like this.
  16. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    I read that article. Too many missing details to draw conclusions from IMO. I was very surprised to see how low the yields were. Sure, the margin counts most but a few things needed explaining like how many farms there were in the sample and what the true labour cost was - "unpaid labour" wasn't discussed in the FW article. If you look at the Groundswell team you have to wonder how many of them work on the farm and what the arrangements are for remuneration. I'm not expecting a detailed answer to that @martian but the figures were unusual enough to warrant further investigation before drawing meaningful conclusions. I can't think of many no till farms with excessive staffing levels, in fact they will have less workers cultivating :scratchhead: What % of no tillers in the survey have salaried managers instead of family/directors on a different pay structure e.g. basic + dividend where the divi comes out of the accounts elsewhere?

    Junk in, junk out.

    I couldn't stay for the Thursday unfortunately. I would have liked to be there to hear Gary's talk. I have to sell the concept of CA to my non farming employers, directors and trustees and they like benchmarking data to compare against.
  17. martian

    martian DD Moderator

    N Herts
    I must admit, seeing as our figures were in the very small cohort (12 farms) that Gary based his findings on, that I thought that we must have dragged the average yield down. We had a very disappointing harvest here last year, a dry spell after we applied our urea, where we probably lost most of the N to the atmosphere and lots of spring cropping that didn't come to much for various reasons. And we had a few experiments that went wrong. Even so, we showed a profit for the reasons outlined above: costs slashed across the board. It turns out that others must have had an even worse yield than we did. Things are looking much better this year, despite the dry spell. On labour, seeing as you asked, we've got 2 full timers atm on 2500 acres, which you might think is over-manning. Most of the helpers at Groundswell are volunteers or relations.

    The figures that Gary has come up with are merely the start of a bench-marking project, you have to start somewhere and he choose harvest 2017 (which I wasn't mad about as we'd had a stinker as I said above). The figures will become much more useful as time goes by and more years and farms get included. As Roy says in one of his posts above, we need to be more Aussie in our approach to our neighbours and honestly co-operate and share figures and ideas. And not get hung up about yields, the old yield is king nonsense serves ancillary industries far better than it does farmers. The King is dead! Profit is sanity, yield is vanity. The yields certainly are low in the article, but remember that there will be a lot of spring crops in there
    hendrebc, ollie989898 and Brisel like this.
  18. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    Thank you. 2 full time staff on 2500 acres with livestock is pretty lean, even by Velcourt/Rands standards. The FW article talked about winter wheat yields IIRC not spring crops, though that's a good point. Spring crops won't have a good year again thanks to late drilling and this drought.

    Perhaps I ought to talk to Gary about a strip till group? I already benchmark against another Claydon user. I wonder if this would interest BASE UK?
    martian likes this.
  19. I found it quite interesting that the no-till farms reported higher labour costs and used just as much spray/fert… doesn't seem quite right but again as has been said it could be down to some of the farms being new to the system and not quite running it properly yet.
    martian likes this.

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