No-Till Potatoes

Simon Chiles

DD Moderator
Yes, that's pretty much it. You want more than one bale rolled out, in terms of thickness of straw, we fluffed it up a bit too (knackering) and doused it with a water bowser to stop it blowing away and get the stuff wet to start growing. Didn't have the balls to miss blight sprays out, should have left a section off really as a trial.
Thin end of the wedge paying children, they'll probably get Simon's crisps...

What!!! I've been eagerly waiting for them ever since the prototypes were waved under my nose in a clear plastic bag. Wasn't even allowed to try just one.
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
By way of extra entertainment for those lucky enough to secure a ticket to this year's Groundswell show, we've put in a little trial plot of no-till potatoes in the drill demo field. RTK seems to have been on the blink with the well-rotted dung trailer, but having spread a trailer load of that, we sprinkled a few earlies about on the dung and rolled 4 bales of straw on top. No weedkiller, the jury's out on whether the blackgrass will push through the straw with the spuds.
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pine_guy

Member
Location
North Cumbria
By way of extra entertainment for those lucky enough to secure a ticket to this year's Groundswell show, we've put in a little trial plot of no-till potatoes in the drill demo field. RTK seems to have been on the blink with the well-rotted dung trailer, but having spread a trailer load of that, we sprinkled a few earlies about on the dung and rolled 4 bales of straw on top. No weedkiller, the jury's out on whether the blackgrass will push through the straw with the spuds.
View attachment 494786View attachment 494788
how did this go then?
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Had a lot of good spuds off that plot. Put half an acre in on Groundswell site this year and, despite the dry summer, it looks like there's a decent crop there. Waiting till we've finished drilling to harvest them. Also wondering how to mechanise the job, unless we wait till half-term...
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
It is an interesting way of growing spuds. I don't know much about how they are grown commercially, except that it has got ridiculously expensive and knackers the soil. The joy of no-till spuds is that the soil is not disturbed at all and all that straw feeds a lot of soil creatures as well as swamping grass weeds. We've got a bit of scab on the tubers this year, which makes me think that it might be best to grow earlies and also get them off before the main blight season kicks in. We haven't used any fertiliser (beyond a plastering of FYM) or sprays, and I've been impressed by the general level of production. It is potentially a way for small-scale producers to get into the potato business without massive amounts of capital tied up in huge machines.
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
We're planning on harvesting the crop on Thursday if anyone fancies a bit of manual labour or, better, if anyone has a harvesting machine that they think will work and they want to try it out...you'll get a sack of spuds for your trouble. Probably.
 

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
@martian this is a fascinating thread, which I've only just stumbled on as someone else linked to it from elsewhere. Do you think you will grow them every year?

I had an old spinner the same style as the one @choochter posted earlier in the thread, and wondered if something like that really would make the job easier? They bruise the potatoes but could one be adapted to run a bit slower, or have softer tines on it, to move the spuds into an orderly row, given the machine doesn't have to push any earth out of the way? Unfortunately my spinner got weighed in a few weeks ago, just as the price of scrap seemed to drop, in my usual reverse-Midas style.
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
We haven't put any in this year for some reason.
Your spinner might help, but I think an onion lifter or modified version thereof, feels like the best bet, minimal handling. The straw is a bit of an issue, but you should be able to blow or riddle it out
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Thinking about this @martian - what do you follow the potatoes with in your rotation? Do you have to do anything to spread the straw about a bit before you can plant into it?
George Sly kindly came along with his strip till planter and went straight into mulch, pulling it to one side and sowing sweet corn and pumpkins etc into the moist soil underneath. Unfortunately we failed to spray off the weeds, but crops have come well, will get a snap when I'm next passing. Straw mulch still doing a good job on keeping soil covered between rows...protecting it from sun and rain and thwarting weeds
 

Foxcover

Member
You could set up an 8 row 6m powerharrow planter behind a 600hp crawler following a rotary cultivator and claim you’re still a ctf soil conservation hero :LOL:
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
You could set up an 8 row 6m powerharrow planter behind a 600hp crawler following a rotary cultivator and claim you’re still a ctf soil conservation hero :LOL:
ctf is very useful and an important part of our system here but in some of these situation (potatoes and beet) I cannot for the life of me see what difference it is ever going to make, most of those machine are so huge with wide tyres they drive on the whole field surface area anyway! great way to spend a shed load of cash IMO
 

Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

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Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

Written by Lisa Applin

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In July, we opened the applications window for farmers to join our Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is 1 of the 3 new environmental land management schemes. It sits alongside the future Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes.

Through the Sustainable Farming Incentive, farmers will be paid for environmentally sustainable actions – ones that are simple to do and do not require previous agri-environment scheme experience.

We are piloting the scheme to...
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