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old'un

Direct drilling

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    This winter I have been shooting ten rape fields on various farms, the rape on all but one was direct drilled for the first time, I was told this was to keep cost down and keep any nutrients in the top layer of soil, well the one field that was ploughed, broken down and drill sown looks better/taller than any of the other direct sown fields, as anyone else noticed this with direct drilling? The crop on most looks sparse/patchy in places, will be interesting to see what happens when they get the fertilizer on, seems to have made very little difference to the pigeons as they are hitting the rape regardless of how the seed was sown.  

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    Direct drilling saves about 60 to 70% on cost of putting the seed in the ground.  I am of the old school and believe that a properly prepared seed bed will produce a much better crop but it is all down to economics.  Rape is basically a 'weed' and will grow even on the surface, just look at the winrows after the combine.  Add a bit of bag muck and away you go.  The pigeons love it whatever.

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    Yes these so called minimum tilth operations seem to commom here now too mainly for the reasons mentioned above.

    These fields always seem to be behind at this time of year but soon get going when the nitrogen goes on in spring.

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    One farm I shoot has been direct drilling rape, wheat, barely and oats for the last decade. The farmer tells me that his yields are as good as when he drilled conventionally but with considerably less establishment costs. There has been a lot of issues this year, just after drilling, with flea beetle severely hampering some rape, I do not think it matters how it is drilled once beetle gets to it, they can destroy it nearly overnight.

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    My experience of direct drilling is on rape the plants are wider apart allowing pigeon activity between the rows and also you get missed parts of the field for some reason. I'm supposing that the seed discs can be set at different widths?. Direct drilled cereals after dry weather do not penetrate the wheel tracks of the harvest vehicles and you get a nice line of exposed grain on the surface which in turn leaves strips of the field devoid of plants. These are my findings.

    I'm also of the old school that you prepare your seed patch to a fine tilth which intern allows the seeds to develope a strong root system  to gather nutrient for the plant.

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    when i was on the farms, we tryed direct drilling but the slugs went up the lines eating it, never turned out the same, so went back to the old way.

    Edited by mossy835

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    With this wind today I decided to have a drive around a few fields, whilst at the gate of one of the fields (direct drilled) the farmer pulled up behind me, we were having a chat and the subject of direct drilling came up, he was saying apart from the saving with this method the other reason for it was to prevent black grass seeds from germinating, he said one of the other problems with direct drilling was the numbers of flea beetle were higher, he had lost two large fields of directly drilled rape from flea beetle, apparently the time to spray for flea beetle is in the dark as they are more active at night and the new chemicals they are now allowed to use only work by direct contact with the beetle, I thought he was winding me up about spraying after dark but apparently not.

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