Organic no till

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.

In my issue #100 in Feb-May 2017 we featured a farm built inter-row drill that put three rows of ryegrass seed into standing maize when it was about welly high. The maize controlled the grass until harvest when it romped away and the system is popular around his Shropshire base. Would it work with cereals sown on wide row spacing?
 

Dan Powell

Member
Location
Shropshire
In my issue #100 in Feb-May 2017 we featured a farm built inter-row drill that put three rows of ryegrass seed into standing maize when it was about welly high. The maize controlled the grass until harvest when it romped away and the system is popular around his Shropshire base. Would it work with cereals sown on wide row spacing?
It would work but more difficult with cereals as the rows are so much closer. Maize would be 80 cm rows. Cereals max 25 cm or 33 on a strip till claydon type band. Without camera assisted guidance a lot of the cereal would be eaten by "steel worm".
 
It would work but more difficult with cereals as the rows are so much closer. Maize would be 80 cm rows. Cereals max 25 cm or 33 on a strip till claydon type band. Without camera assisted guidance a lot of the cereal would be eaten by "steel worm".

That would be a disaster! But am wondering how cereals would yield at 40cm - about 16ins, and if the drill would keep itself away from the crop. Am just looking at the quantity of precious topsoil which passes under the bridge at Ross-on-Wye, and of course other rivers. Our grandchildren might rue the day we as farmers allowed this to happen. What is amazing is the paucity of research and knowledge done, and the hands-in-the-air stance of government, which appears not interested.


Muddy waterRoss.jpg
 

Dan Powell

Member
Location
Shropshire
I met a French farmer who was strip tilling wheat at 50cm rows. He rated it, but I'm pretty sure there would be a yield penalty. Then again organic wheat is only doing 5-6 tonnes/ha so maybe don't need a dense stand to achieve that. Might be worth a trial anyway...
 
Will direct drilling work on organic farms with couch? One advantage would be that you are not spreading it around the farm, but what means of effective control would you have.
Would cover crops be competitive against couch.
 

David_A

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Fife
Will direct drilling work on organic farms with couch? One advantage would be that you are not spreading it around the farm, but what means of effective control would you have.
Would cover crops be competitive against couch.
Everything is possible I think, however the rotation needs planned with certain goals in mind. So if couch is the problem then you might need to plant a succession of smothering crops to get on top of it, before planting your desired cash crop.
 

Hobbit

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
South West
As a no tiller I can see no gains in ploughing the soil at all.

It was a lovely place. Clearly prosperous and well run.

I just feel the organic no till thing is a bit misleading
Was the rotational plough to control perennial weeds? As conventional no-tiller we can still have the option to use chemicals which is why the likes of Gabe Brown aren’t organic.

Sorry to reference the Americans. As some one pointed out that nearly all the literature comes from there.
 
Was the rotational plough to control perennial weeds? As conventional no-tiller we can still have the option to use chemicals which is why the likes of Gabe Brown aren’t organic.

Sorry to reference the Americans. As some one pointed out that nearly all the literature comes from there.

Gabe has a lot of frost kill in the winter. So he knows a very thick cover crop of summer annuals can outcompete perennuials and then when the heat comes will leave a mulch.

Pennsyvannia is more humid than Gabe so they probably can't get away with it (Steve Groff would be similar)

The one thing you can't change is the climate. In a way the UK organic system of a 3 year ley, then ploughing for say wheat, possibly a DD turnip crop and then DD oats undersown with grass and clover wouldn't be a bad way of doing it here.
 

scotston

Member
Gabe has a lot of frost kill in the winter. So he knows a very thick cover crop of summer annuals can outcompete perennuials and then when the heat comes will leave a mulch.

Pennsyvannia is more humid than Gabe so they probably can't get away with it (Steve Groff would be similar)

The one thing you can't change is the climate. In a way the UK organic system of a 3 year ley, then ploughing for say wheat, possibly a DD turnip crop and then DD oats undersown with grass and clover wouldn't be a bad way of doing it here.
Using that rotation as an example along with a couple summers of covers in there, do you reckon that a comparison of a fully no tilled soil versus the equivalent soil in the organic system would look much different? Do you believe that there is no microbial/little critter benefit to zero chemical input; or that this would be undone by the limited plough use? Hopefully you can see I'm trying to steer a path using the benefits of both for maximum gain, hoping that one doesn't cancel the other.
 

pom

New Member
So as an organic farmer, I have looking at direct drilling for a number of years as I think it is the way forward on my small thin soiled farm. Never been able to plough my shallow Cotswold brash well enough to burry all the weed seeds.so does the long term direct drillers think that shallow ploughing one year in a 7 year rotation to terminate the fertility building let would be excitable and still get the benefit of direct drilling.
 
Aren't we are just talking around the Norfolk Four Course Rotation? Grass, Cereal, Break, Cereal, Grass? Remember those farmers were up against a Gov determined to drive down food costs for industrial workers, with no subsidy, no well funded trials in place, no agrochemcials, just what they knew and had experienced for themselves. Of course it wasn't perfect, but I'm sure that there is definitely something in what they were doing, and its a good starting point.
 

Cutlerstom

Member
Arable Farmer
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.
Whats the robotic weeder?
 

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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