Steve Heard: 'I am simply not brave enough to tackle wet soils this late in the season'

arableArable Farming

Agronomists, forgive me for I have sinned, we have now already finished drilling. I pay good money for the excellent advice I receive but sometimes the advisers are wrong.


The argument is wheat drilling should be postponed until late October to give the best black-grass control, but I am simply not brave enough to tackle wet soils this late in the season. A decision, with only a small amount of hindsight, I am quite comfortable with.


Last year we established a cover crop directly behind the combines and drilled directly into it with mixed results. This time we have instead used the Vaderstad drill as a shallow cultivator without seed to generate a stale seedbed and then a later second pass to control slugs and emerging weeds mechanically.


Our ‘micro’ tilled soils were then drilled with my ultra low disturbance drill in the hope any remaining weed seeds will remain dormant. I am happy these are probably the best conditions we have ever drilled into and hopefully a strong, well established crop can now withstand some inevitable slug attack and provide suitable competition to any late-emerging grass weed.


Pre-em sprays with a glyphosate mix are being deferred as long as we dare in an attempt to destroy any weed growth at the last possible moment before the wheat emerges. A top-up second residual spray will follow in a couple of weeks and already I am wondering what we can do differently this time to improve control through spring.


Since I last wrote, another of our team has given up life as he knew it to get married. Will and Jessica treated us to a fantastic day among their family and many friends. We all wish them every happiness together.


It takes a special kind of girl to commit to a farming lifestyle, but seeing them drive away from the church in a self-propelled sprayer gave me confidence she realises exactly what she has taken on.


A big thank you must go to Agrifac UK for the new sprayer which saved us many hours of elbow grease to get ours back to the photo shoot.

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