Talking Arable with Andrew Robinson: Assessing input choices

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A month in farming is certainly a long time with crops soaking up the sun and warmth to race on to more normal growth stage timing. And with 25mm of rain falling on the last day of May, it will hopefully keep the gamekeeper happy, with all his game cover crops receiving some much needed moisture.


T1.5 and T2s have been applied to the wheat, the T1.5 is now almost becoming the norm for us here, as the gap this season between T1 and T2 was five weeks, too long with septoria on some lower leaves on both the Gallant and particularly the Skyfall.


I have to say, considering the fungicide programme Skyfall has received, I am disappointed with the level of disease in the bottom of the crop, especially when compared to the Crusoe which is immaculate.


T2 has been sprayed on barley with the fungicides Bontima (cyprodinil+isopyrozam) and Proline (prothioconazole), plus trace elements and foliar nutrient Nutriphyte PGA making up the tank mix. An earlier application of Terpal (ethephon+mepiquat) was applied, hopefully ensuring barley stays upright.


Looking at nitrogen usage for our milling wheat varieties from both last year and in previous five years, it shows we are becoming more efficient in our utilisation of nitrogen, going from 25.16kg of nitrogen per tonne of grain in 2010 to just 21.58kg/t in 2015 (for 13% grain protein for milling specification).


Next question, is sub-20kg of nitrogen per tonne of grain for 13% protein specification a possibility?


Foliar nitrogen decisions have now been made – Gallant we know will need foliar nitrogen, however, I have spent some time weighing up our options on the other varieties. Each year is different and we cannot farm for last year, so based on this year’s yield predictions, we will apply 200 litres/hectare of Nufol to give us a further 40kg of nitrogen to the Skyfall, leaving just Crusoe on the Warburtons contract without this foliar spray.


Beans received some Yara Photrel, a mixture of trace elements after tissue samples revealed deficiencies in boron, sulphur, molybdenum, magnesium and manganese. Amistar (azoxystrobin) plus Bravo (chlorothalonil) were also added to the tank mix, along with an insecticide, as we seem to have ongoing pea and bean weevil issues.


Our pre-emergence has not done a good enough job, with a new flush of volunteer rape coming through, so Basagran (bentazone) was applied on a bright sunny day.


Due in part to the lower price of nitrogen, we have decided to try some late foliar nitrogen on some of the oilseed rape after a nine-year gap since we last used it. Unsurprisingly, the rape is a darker green colour where it has been applied. These areas have been specifically targeted and will all be mapped and taken over the weighbridge.


Black-grass is showing its head in a few fields, so 4.9ha of thick black-grass patches have been glyphosated off, leaving the balance either clean or rogueable. This has now been done with a specialist team from Cambridge coming in for three days, who have done an excellent job.


The first of our students has arrived just in time to help with the increasing amount of green waste. After a steady start to the year due to cold weather, the material has now intensified in daily amounts coming onto site.


Our new JCB loader has arrived at the green waste site, much to everyone’s relief. This larger six-tonne, eight-metre machine certainly looks the part, and its five-year warranty will give us peace of mind and known fixed costs going forward.


The Cereals event is up next for us, which means it will only be a month before combines start to roll. Where has the time gone?

Arable Farming
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