Organic no till

scotston

Member
Folks, happy to be redirected if you have had this conversation but looking for any and all advice. The battle between looking after the soil structure and dealing with weeds without the hallowed Glysophate. I emailed the editor of PFI and DD who acknowledged the clash and recommended a shallow plough as a very sensible half way house. Margins with organic are fantastic but always looking to learn and improve. Typically half the yield, twice the value, zero inputs, just good and varied rotations. Mixed farm at 600ft near Dundee doesn't allow much time for winter covers but my brother maintains the relative foliage in our stubbles after the combine do a shift. Wheat, barley, peas, lentils, oats, linseed, cattle, sheep, overwintering ewes, on farm poultry ration for 5000 layers. Beans were very successfully cut first week in November! Recent purchase of a robotic weeder may help, but old four furrow needs changing so ironically a 5 furrow might be the beginning of the adventure. This may also prompt conversations from conservation ag folk who have wondered what the future looks like with further reduced chemistry. Much obliged.
 

Hobbit

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
South West
This seems a bit of a brief overview. After reading “growing a revolution”, it turns out that they still rotationally plough.
 

scotston

Member
https://www.organicresearchcentre.com/news-events/news/living-mulches-the-holy-grail-of-no-till/ you get a similar bunch of hits by typing in 'organic no till' into Google. Just seems to be a gap between reading this stuff and executing it. But we are in a very privileged position right now with the announcement of further organic subsidy from the Scottish Government. This allows us to invest this cash in the name of research. This is the reason for our novel cropping rollout within our setup. For example we are being paid per hectare to be organic. If we grow lentils we can have success and sell the seed at a profit (which we just about did), poor quality seed so dry it and give to the chooks or harvest failure and therefore call it a cover crop. 3 ways to win win in my book, all the while picking up a couple of hundred a hectare. That is why this feels like I'm trying to setup a 5yr organic min/zero organic lab. Youse are all invited!
 

scotston

Member
I've got a few shallow plough options so far:
Ovlac Mini :
Using this with autosteer looks like fun.
Ecomat Kverneland, An AZ bodied Overum which can go from shallow to 9 inches and a Bugnot Rapid Lab. This was, but no longer, sold by Ryetec as the fellow said too many people demoed it but wondered why it didn't look as nice as a normal plough by not burying trash and taking our deep ruts. But this fellow seems pretty happy with his: https://www.fwi.co.uk/machinery/rapidlab-shallow-plough-impresses-dorset-farm

Creating a top tilth of 4" incorporating mulch and weeds to give you a start, drill into it and use the inter row weeder to manage it looks like a plan. What're the down sides?
 

Dan Powell

Member
Location
Shropshire
I've got a few shallow plough options so far:
Ovlac Mini :
Using this with autosteer looks like fun.
Ecomat Kverneland, An AZ bodied Overum which can go from shallow to 9 inches and a Bugnot Rapid Lab. This was, but no longer, sold by Ryetec as the fellow said too many people demoed it but wondered why it didn't look as nice as a normal plough by not burying trash and taking our deep ruts. But this fellow seems pretty happy with his: https://www.fwi.co.uk/machinery/rapidlab-shallow-plough-impresses-dorset-farm

Creating a top tilth of 4" incorporating mulch and weeds to give you a start, drill into it and use the inter row weeder to manage it looks like a plan. What're the down sides?
Downside is it doesn't bury grass plants properly and they regrow on the surface. That's my limited experience anyway with a kv ecomat demo.

Organic no till is a long way off in our climate. Having been no till and now organic, I would say neither is easy compared to conventional ag, and both together is almost impossible. But still worth trying.

I think the key with organic is to till as little and as shallow as you can to kill the weeds and make sure you grow plenty of green manures and leys to mop up the extra N you mineralise by tilling.

Undersowing with clover is something that works better in organic systems as there is a thinner crop canopy and less freely available nitrogen but tall growing clovers can make combining a nightmare.

I'd like to see someone make an autonomous 3m system chameleon type drill that can sow cover crops in early June between the cash crop rows without trashing it. Then organic systems could be much much more productive.
 

David_A

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Fife
Fascinated with this. I am trying to work out organic no till also (we aren't organic and don't dd everything yet). So far my solutions seem to be based around getting thick cover crops to a crimpable stage at the correct time of year. Summer covers would allow this potentially but it's harder in the spring. I do think we need to look at importing some varieties that develop at a faster rate such as the Canadian stuff. This may allow time for an over winter cover to mature sufficiently in May, to then sow barley or oats dd after a crimping.
Short term the more likely solution would be cropping every second season with a summer cover or 2 in between.
 

Flat 10

Member
Location
Fen Edge
Folks, happy to be redirected if you have had this conversation but looking for any and all advice. The battle between looking after the soil structure and dealing with weeds without the hallowed Glysophate. I emailed the editor of PFI and DD who acknowledged the clash and recommended a shallow plough as a very sensible half way house. Margins with organic are fantastic but always looking to learn and improve. Typically half the yield, twice the value, zero inputs, just good and varied rotations. Mixed farm at 600ft near Dundee doesn't allow much time for winter covers but my brother maintains the relative foliage in our stubbles after the combine do a shift. Wheat, barley, peas, lentils, oats, linseed, cattle, sheep, overwintering ewes, on farm poultry ration for 5000 layers. Beans were very successfully cut first week in November! Recent purchase of a robotic weeder may help, but old four furrow needs changing so ironically a 5 furrow might be the beginning of the adventure. This may also prompt conversations from conservation ag folk who have wondered what the future looks like with further reduced chemistry. Much obliged.
Folks, happy to be redirected if you have had this conversation but looking for any and all advice. The battle between looking after the soil structure and dealing with weeds without the hallowed Glysophate. I emailed the editor of PFI and DD who acknowledged the clash and recommended a shallow plough as a very sensible half way house. Margins with organic are fantastic but always looking to learn and improve. Typically half the yield, twice the value, zero inputs, just good and varied rotations. Mixed farm at 600ft near Dundee doesn't allow much time for winter covers but my brother maintains the relative foliage in our stubbles after the combine do a shift. Wheat, barley, peas, lentils, oats, linseed, cattle, sheep, overwintering ewes, on farm poultry ration for 5000 layers. Beans were very successfully cut first week in November! Recent purchase of a robotic weeder may help, but old four furrow needs changing so ironically a 5 furrow might be the beginning of the adventure. This may also prompt conversations from conservation ag folk who have wondered what the future looks like with further reduced chemistry. Much obliged.
Do you buy in much feed? Fascinating system. I thought they struggled with lentils in the South of England....
As for ploughs buy an old Lemken Glimmer plough.....
 

scotston

Member
David_A You sound like a fellow to have a chat with. Aren't organic and not fully DD. A man betwixt and between methinks. It would be ideal to get winter covers to establish in a sensible fashion but tricky up here. We have successfully drilled a winter radish after potatoes in september/early october, and in most of our now mild-ish winters (not this one). Doesn't look much up top but lovely underneath. Seemed a very easy and sensible way to repair the damage. We are now abandoning tatties for soil and economic reasons. The rent doesn't touch an average crop of org beans at £400/t, 1.4t/ac or oats at £290/t, 2t/ac. I'm happy with the thought of cropping every second season, cover after cover if the cash crop is a belter. I had a look through and saw that Mr Bailey has already created a post on the flip side of this one, namely going from DD to organic. Some interesting points were raised but not sure if I'm over stepping my position here by noting that most DD hate the idea of any cultivation, including inter row weeding? We are battling with the contradiction of 150mm row spacings with 10- 20% increased seed rate to create a canopy to prevent weeds and bigger rows to allow the inter row weeder a chance to do its thing. Our 3 year grass leys are fantastic at weed control but a bugger to break down and drill wheat into, the grass always comes back unless it's ploughed down 10". We need to investigate slicing and dicing it and then maybe using a shallow plough to invert what has hopefully become dead roots. We have a brilliant arrangement with an organic hill farmer who gets paid to move his blackies off the hills through the winter - they are mountain goats so need good fences, but they eat everything. Not a banking by a dyke left untouched. Then when the ley comes back in spring we can silage it and turn the cattle out on it. Definitely think an organic system needs a bit of livestock to help grease the wheels.
 

Muddyroads

Member
Location
Devon
Folks, happy to be redirected if you have had this conversation but looking for any and all advice. The battle between looking after the soil structure and dealing with weeds without the hallowed Glysophate. I emailed the editor of PFI and DD who acknowledged the clash and recommended a shallow plough as a very sensible half way house. Margins with organic are fantastic but always looking to learn and improve. Typically half the yield, twice the value, zero inputs, just good and varied rotations. Mixed farm at 600ft near Dundee doesn't allow much time for winter covers but my brother maintains the relative foliage in our stubbles after the combine do a shift. Wheat, barley, peas, lentils, oats, linseed, cattle, sheep, overwintering ewes, on farm poultry ration for 5000 layers. Beans were very successfully cut first week in November! Recent purchase of a robotic weeder may help, but old four furrow needs changing so ironically a 5 furrow might be the beginning of the adventure. This may also prompt conversations from conservation ag folk who have wondered what the future looks like with further reduced chemistry. Much obliged.
Curious about your robotic weeder, without hijacking the thread!
 

scotston

Member
Do you buy in much feed? Fascinating system. I thought they struggled with lentils in the South of England....
As for ploughs buy an old Lemken Glimmer plough.....
I need to buy concentrated protein to bring the layer diet up to spec, namely soya (we grow around 2/3rds in wheat, oats and beans). A bit sh!t given I have no idea where it came from so looking at lupins as a decent substitute. Also hoping to drill hemp for oil and get an analysis done on it. The lentils were drilled, grew and looking beautiful until I turned my head away... then when I looked back there was weeds everywhere. To be fair, the lentils were still there but volunteer rape romped home the winner. I combined it slowly taking down 4ft rape plants and burning out my reel clutch trying to force them through, then the whole lot went on the drying floor. There are lentils in the bag but we now need to set up our old Law Denis D200 with appropriate screens to make it look like a crop. Definitely a score draw. But the linseed yielded 7t from 20ac. Moving at £950/t with only a grand on seed and drilling costs, makes it look a pretty sensible margin. Lemken Glimmer looks exactly like what we need but doubt there's many around.
 

David_A

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Fife
David_A You sound like a fellow to have a chat with. Aren't organic and not fully DD. A man betwixt and between methinks. It would be ideal to get winter covers to establish in a sensible fashion but tricky up here. We have successfully drilled a winter radish after potatoes in september/early october, and in most of our now mild-ish winters (not this one). Doesn't look much up top but lovely underneath. Seemed a very easy and sensible way to repair the damage. We are now abandoning tatties for soil and economic reasons. The rent doesn't touch an average crop of org beans at £400/t, 1.4t/ac or oats at £290/t, 2t/ac. I'm happy with the thought of cropping every second season, cover after cover if the cash crop is a belter. I had a look through and saw that Mr Bailey has already created a post on the flip side of this one, namely going from DD to organic. Some interesting points were raised but not sure if I'm over stepping my position here by noting that most DD hate the idea of any cultivation, including inter row weeding? We are battling with the contradiction of 150mm row spacings with 10- 20% increased seed rate to create a canopy to prevent weeds and bigger rows to allow the inter row weeder a chance to do its thing. Our 3 year grass leys are fantastic at weed control but a bugger to break down and drill wheat into, the grass always comes back unless it's ploughed down 10". We need to investigate slicing and dicing it and then maybe using a shallow plough to invert what has hopefully become dead roots. We have a brilliant arrangement with an organic hill farmer who gets paid to move his blackies off the hills through the winter - they are mountain goats so need good fences, but they eat everything. Not a banking by a dyke left untouched. Then when the ley comes back in spring we can silage it and turn the cattle out on it. Definitely think an organic system needs a bit of livestock to help grease the wheels.
Not so much betwixt, but like the lack of soil movement of dd more than organic ploughing. Hence the current regen bit. Sort of stepping stone to organic really. We are seeing a reduction in weeds with no till. It is well known that less soil movement means less weeds in general, so ploughing to control weeds seems odd in the long run. We just need to understand that without access to herbicides in organic we need to provide a thick cover to out complete the weeds all the time the land is not in a cash crop. Fail at that point and the plough needs gug out for a quick fix.
 

scotston

Member
Not so much betwixt, but like the lack of soil movement of dd more than organic ploughing. Hence the current regen bit. Sort of stepping stone to organic really. We are seeing a reduction in weeds with no till. It is well known that less soil movement means less weeds in general, so ploughing to control weeds seems odd in the long run. We just need to understand that without access to herbicides in organic we need to provide a thick cover to out complete the weeds all the time the land is not in a cash crop. Fail at that point and the plough needs gug out for a quick fix.
Fair point, well made. I suppose this is exactly the reason that the robot weeder looks like a good shout if tickling the surface is allowed by DD rules. It's a basic triple K old school cultivator by Edwards farm machinery, but with a fast moving side shift and the same camera system as garford, but a shed load cheaper.
 

Dan Powell

Member
Location
Shropshire
Fair point, well made. I suppose this is exactly the reason that the robot weeder looks like a good shout if tickling the surface is allowed by DD rules. It's a basic triple K old school cultivator by Edwards farm machinery, but with a fast moving side shift and the same camera system as garford, but a shed load cheaper.
Is that something you've put together yourself? Would love to see some photos. Can't justify a hoe here due to expense. I've gone the other way with narrow rows and an einbock harrow but it's not that great a system on weed control.
 

Dan Powell

Member
Location
Shropshire
PS we tried breaking down a ley with a hired Kuhn rotavator last summer. I think 2 passes at 2 inches in a dry summer spell would have done it but very slow and used a lot of diesel. It also takes grass out of production just at a time when you could do with more.

I think all annual plants would be essential to make organic no till work. So vetch & rye etc instead of clover and ryegrass. Easier to kill.

Or permanent white clover under story.... @Clive

 

scotston

Member
No not at all, looked around, garford, opico. Mr Edwards said he had been working with the camera folk for ages on his veg machines. Seemed like a top bloke. A big punt for £20k but it doesn't take very many fields of organic linseed to pay it off, or organic subsidy. Just need to get the correct timing to see if it actually does this spring.

 
This seems a bit of a brief overview. After reading “growing a revolution”, it turns out that they still rotationally plough.

I went there over 14 years ago. Interesting place but yes they still plough and do 1 or 2 years of dd.
 

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
We did an experiment last year half ploughed , half disced with a lemken rubin 8? IIRC.
We would have preferred to go with the smaller disced machine and narrower spacings rubin 6?

We had to go deeper than ideal to get the turf broken up given the dry weather and disc spacings.

Only had machine for short while so couldn't go back over again in a few days.

The forage rape was slow to establish due to the dry weather so there was more grass weeds on the disced side.

Would like to try again in a different season.
Machine would have worked really well after the forage crop was eaten.
Breaking the 5 yr old plus turf is the challenge
 

David_A

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Fife
We did an experiment last year half ploughed , half disced with a lemken rubin 8? IIRC.
We would have preferred to go with the smaller disced machine and narrower spacings rubin 6?

We had to go deeper than ideal to get the turf broken up given the dry weather and disc spacings.

Only had machine for short while so couldn't go back over again in a few days.

The forage rape was slow to establish due to the dry weather so there was more grass weeds on the disced side.

Would like to try again in a different season.
Machine would have worked really well after the forage crop was eaten.
Breaking the 5 yr old plus turf is the challenge
Has anyone tried grazing a pasture right down to the bare soil (or as far as you dare) followed by sowing a vigorous crop of rape or rye or anything that will out compete the grass as it grows back slowly. Thinking this might be worth a try in July when the grass is at its lowest growth rate of the summer. Better still if this is done repeatedly beforehand to weaken the reserves in the grass roots. The summer cover could then be crimped and dd into later on... we don't have sheep in the summer so haven't been able to try this yet.
 

Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

  • 66
  • 0
Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

Written by Lisa Applin

Webp.net-resizeimage-3.jpg


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...
Top