In part 2 of our New Year’s Resolutions blogs for 2018, the Arable & Forage Inputs Team look ahead to 2018 – highlighting their top tips for increasing productivity and making margins in the New Year.
Attention to detail
- Study your soil
Charlie Dolphin (Arable Specialist) “Where margins are tight in grassland and arable crop production, attention to the finer details can make all the difference. Looking at your soil’s health is a perfect example of this. When looking at your soil, it’s important to consider the amount of organic matter, depth, texture, colour and density.
Gareth Mitchell (Sales Specialist) “The benefits of managing soil health include improved storage and supply of essential nutrients, better water availability, reduced pests and diseases, decreased levels of erosion and improved rooting systems. These can all have a considerable impact on increasing productivity and efficiency.”
- Focus on timing
Edward Porter (Trainee Agronomist) “A clean start is essential for a successful crop. Competition from weeds can result in establishment issues, lodging for cereal crops, gappy swards in grassland and reduced yields overall. For grassland, the best time to apply herbicides to a new ley is when the weeds are at the 2-4 leaf stage and once the grass (and clover) is large enough to be sprayed. By going on with an early application, you can achieve a high level of dock control – better than at any other later timing during the life of the ley.”
Chris Pashby (Agronomist) “When it comes to arable crops, growers often opt to apply herbicides in tank mixtures with the first fungicide to save a pass with the sprayer. However, although this may seem like a way to reduce costs, this timing is often too late as the weeds are already beyond a growth stage at which they can be effectively controlled. The most cost-effective option in cereals, I would suggest, is to apply pre-emergence as this will help to control the weeds as soon as they germinate.”
- Make a management plan for harvest
Clive Bethell (Grassland & Arable Specialist) “A part of the growing process which can often be overlooked is harvest management. Paying attention to detail at this stage will pay dividends, guaranteeing a good-looking crop in the field and resulting in a quality silage in the clamp or grain quality for end-use. When harvesting a forage crop, treatment with an appropriate silage additive can considerably reduce spoilage losses and protect your investment.”
Sarah-Jane Baldwin (Regional Agricultural Sales Specialist) “The other factors which are important to consider at this stage to preserve the quality of your forage are cutting timing, chop length clamp management and the feed-out process. Considering these bases and the finer details, will help you to produce high quality and nutritional silage. I work closely with farmers in my area on making sure that their maize crop, in particular, is well managed at harvest. One of the most important factors to consider is that maize should be harvested at a DM content of 30 to 35%. At this level, lactation performance is maximised, consolidation of the clamp is easier and effluent production is significantly reduced.”