Organic no till

Scholsey

Member
Location
Herefordshire
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 think your ever be able to move away from shallow ploughing?Relatively recently converted organic dairy farm growing 5 year grass/clover leys, wholecrop winter wheat and fodder beet and cant see any way of doing it without ploughing. Would love to find 2-3 other farms to share a shallow plough with in the area.
 

scotston

Member
I would like to think so. Crimp roller, decent slot cut with a direct drill and then weed with the inter row hoe is my current thinking. Not sure whether the inter rows of weeds or previous crop will be too dense for a simple triple k tine that we have just now. Somebody else on here was talking about a book called 'For the Love of Soil' (on chapter 5 and loving it). Decided that soil understanding is first and foremost and then try to incorporate what the book(s) are teaching me to see how much damage organic shallow ploughing is doing versus zero till and using chemicals. My instinct, and I hope I won't cause offence, is that they might be about the same, some points better than others. But I definitely need more understanding of soil. Turns out I know jack sh!t about it but worryingly most of the 'proper' farmers around here and agronomists don't either! In fact I would say that this forum is far and away the highest density of soil interested people there are anywhere in my world. At the minute. My job is to assimilate this knowledge and that from books and look for more. Meanwhile, we need to keep changing our techniques/cropping and see what works and what doesn't, while turning a profit sufficient to keep the trialing going. All good fun...
 

Renaultman

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Darlington
I would like to think so. Crimp roller, decent slot cut with a direct drill and then weed with the inter row hoe is my current thinking. Not sure whether the inter rows of weeds or previous crop will be too dense for a simple triple k tine that we have just now. Somebody else on here was talking about a book called 'For the Love of Soil' (on chapter 5 and loving it). Decided that soil understanding is first and foremost and then try to incorporate what the book(s) are teaching me to see how much damage organic shallow ploughing is doing versus zero till and using chemicals. My instinct, and I hope I won't cause offence, is that they might be about the same, some points better than others. But I definitely need more understanding of soil. Turns out I know jack sh!t about it but worryingly most of the 'proper' farmers around here and agronomists don't either! In fact I would say that this forum is far and away the highest density of soil interested people there are anywhere in my world. At the minute. My job is to assimilate this knowledge and that from books and look for more. Meanwhile, we need to keep changing our techniques/cropping and see what works and what doesn't, while turning a profit sufficient to keep the trialing going. All good fun...
I remember, in our turnip and mangold days of my youth, welding rotavator times on the end of triple k tines, to cut through the weed roots. I have no idea whether it actually worked as I was only a bairn.
 

This is a fantastic resource I refer back to time and again. Chemicals have destroyed the natural ways. I believe there is a balance to be found where growth of soil health is complemented by reasonable yields. IMO exceptional yield can only be achieved by exploiting the soil. Modern farming essentially uses the soil as a hydroponic medium where the chemicals for growth are supplied by the fertilizer, and the health or otherwise of the soil is not of great concern.
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales

This is a fantastic resource I refer back to time and again. Chemicals have destroyed the natural ways. I believe there is a balance to be found where growth of soil health is complemented by reasonable yields. IMO exceptional yield can only be achieved by exploiting the soil. Modern farming essentially uses the soil as a hydroponic medium where the chemicals for growth are supplied by the fertilizer, and the health or otherwise of the soil is not of great concern.
It’s simple really, almost all of the feeding to the plant in a conventional system is from above (via sprayers and spreaders) roots barely go down hunting for minerals/nutrients in a well fed conventional system. Since we’ve gone organic 20+ years ago we have far better rooting systems/drainage/drought tolerance etc where the plants have to go down for their food instead of being fed by prills ontop.
 

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
Thanks for the link to the older thread. It's a very good read. Lentils were fine but weeds were an issue. I ended up combining them at a foot off the ground but had the reel as high as possible dealing with volunteer rape. barsteward. But they grew quite happily. This year we're going to get the robotic weeder working them hard. Yes hodmedods. Plough was around £18k for 8 furrow reversible. Done a magic job at 4 inches. Just enough to turn the weeds and grass upside down. Not great seeing brown soil but only for a month from stu like to growing crop so hopefully not too much carbon lost. Adding hemp and lupins to our rotation this year. Bees should be happy as we're gonna have around a dozen flowering crops. I'll post a drone flowering pic of the farm hopefully at some point.

How did you get on with your robotic weeder this year @scotston ? Did you ever get a chance to take a drone photo of everything in flower?
 

scotston

Member
Weeder went well thanks. Still a wee bit of tuning with the autosteer but broadly a success. Deadly accurate when everything working fine and a joy to . We went through the linseed, barley, lentils, some oats and the lupins only once. We were a bit nervous about wheel damage but it turns out there was no need. I suspect the 312 could do with a wheel angle sensor to help steer it as the weeder is quite a lump on the front and can drag it about a bit but the crops look well and without damage. Not sure if I impacted the weeds enough, perhaps another couple of passes would be better next year. I haven't got drone footage yet as things are only beginning to flower, that's how late everything is. I hope we get a dry November! Disappointingly the hemp looks the weakest crop except where the midden was. Reckon this is down to drilling a little early with the cold May and then getting biblical combinations of rain and sun. But the lupins are a foot tall and beginning to flower. I'll be looking for everything out next week if it's sunny.
 

Horn&corn

Member

This was from early on in Barley. The chap from Edwards machinery was gonna make up a video from his drone flight when I was driving. I'll post once I have it.
Sorry to be late to the party. Is the camera on the Hoe steering the tractor or do you have gps and then side shift system on the Hoe? Looks like it is doing a great job. Roughly what did it all cost if you’re willing to share? Thanks
 

halthor

Member
Mixed Farmer
youtube suggested this guy in my feed a couple of weeks ago - quite interesting to see what they manage to do large scale
 

scotston

Member
Sorry to be late to the party. Is the camera on the Hoe steering the tractor or do you have gps and then side shift system on the Hoe? Looks like it is doing a great job. Roughly what did it all cost if you’re willing to share? Thanks
The latter. GPS on tractor to keep the line the drill had then camera for 150mm side shift (300mm total). Was excellent just needed to be more brave with more passes. GPS on this machine about £6500 including my own base station. £21,5k odds for the hoe. Would have been £20k but I got folding arms to allow it to go to 4m in the future if we change our drill to a bigger one. Hopefully a direct drill!
 

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
Hi folks, thought you might like to see this film showing some outcomes and thoughts from the first full year of the living mulch field lab. Any feedback or insights that you have after watching are appreciated!


As well as being interested in the yields, I do have a few general questions... They mentioned using a direct drill to establish the cash crop, how and when is the clover established? What did the trial follow in the rotation - i.e. what was in the that field the year before? They mentioned perennial weeds being a problem - are they worse than in normal organic cereals? They're bad enough already in mine, I don't want more docks/thistles than I already get. I'm just trying to get a picture of the overall rotation that a system like this sits in. I tried undersowing winter wheat with clover a couple of years back and found the clover was too competitive against the wheat, but that may have been down to choice of varieties of both.
 

scotston

Member
I think rotation might be the key. We ended up with a clover understory by chance by using the shallow plough. This field was grass with clover for 4 years until 2020. It was deep ploughed (8 to 10 in) in spring 20, planted with peas and harvested early September. The clover had begun to grow back already and kicked off at the back end. Grazed with sheep over winter then shallow ploughed in spring this year and drilled with spring barley. I trialled the inter row hoe through and didn't notice too much clover but by September 1st, this is what we had. Completely clean of weeds just the clover. 2t/ac. This will be grazed again this winter. The bug life on the cutter bar was exceptional. I don't consider any issues with drying costs as I have a biomass powered floor dryer. Tip it up and walk away. For all crops. Even the the lupins and beans cutting today at 25%mc.
 

Attachments

  • DSC_0066_6.JPG
    DSC_0066_6.JPG
    1.2 MB · Views: 0
  • DSC_0067_7.JPG
    DSC_0067_7.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 0

Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

  • 62
  • 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