Meet the 2016 #iOSR growers
#iOSR is a new initiative from Syngenta and is exclusively published by Arable Farming. Here you get to meet the growers involved with the project.
#iOSR - a hub for growing excellence. Meet the growers involved!
- Chris Baylis, head of farming at Sir Richard Sutton Estates, manages around 850 hectares of oilseed rape among the 6,000ha of cropping across three farming units, from Lincolnshire down to Hampshire and Dorset. To establish the crop he uses a Vaderstad Rapid fitted with a Cultivation Solutions toolbar creating a combined strip till drill, the design incorporates a coulter either side of the cultivator tine, in a configuration that gives more of a band sowing effect and spreads the plant spacing, placement fertiliser is also applied across the band at sowing. All the crops are hybrid varieties drilled at 35 seeds per hectare throughout the season – which is completed by the end of August. The farms cereal rotation aims for 40 per cent first wheats, with oilseed rape still one of the best performers as an entry crop; last year’s average yield of 4.4t/ha was slightly above the farm’s long-term average.
- Chris Eglington farms 400 hectares near Dereham, Norfolk. With 13 soil types across the farm, predominantly medium to heavy loam, Chris precision drills his OSR at 56cm row width, with seven sub-soiler tines across a 4m working width. He sows just 21 seeds per m2 - the low rate required to get sufficient inter-row plant spacing, with volunteers typically filling in additional plants. While yields have historically been good, he believes his four-year rotation has been too tight and, for the first time this year, has introduced peas to extend the interval between OSR crops.
- Greg Wilcox’s Northamptonshire contract farming business involves a wide range of establishment techniques and agronomy across 400 hectares of OSR. Strip till, direct drilling and Autocast will all be utilised where appropriate or available for the contract operation. In the right conditions, using the Autocast to spin seed and slug pellets into standing wheat has been extremely effective and kept the costs of production down, but he acknowledges it is not for every situation and there is the severe limitation of not being able to used treated seed.
- Hamish Campbell and Martin Parkinson farm in partnership in the Cotswolds. The initial intention was to share - and reduce - operational costs across the two farms, but it has seen many other benefits from the ability to invest in more efficient machinery and increase the buying-power of the combined operation. Furthermore, Hamish reports the positive discussion and wider-experience brought by the partnership has led to better decisions and improved overall performance. Hamish also adds value to his OSR crop with a cold-pressing extraction and retail business, supplying supermarket, catering and specialist food businesses. He has an exclusive arrangement to grow Molten for his prestigious high-quality R-Oil brand – proven to bring cost and efficiency savings for food businesses using the oil in fryers.
- Joe Dilibero manages the 700-hectare Keyston Farms estate in Cambridgeshire, including 170ha of oilseed rape. Blackgrass and Flea Beetle are the key challenges for establishment of the direct drilled crop on the heavy hanslope clay soils. OSR has the flexibility to fit with a range of new cultivation techniques which he believes have been integral in getting better control of black-grass in recent seasons. It still has an important role as a cleaning crop in the rotation, along with beans, and has always proven one of the farm’s consistent performers.
John Haynes has 300 hectares of oilseed rape among the 1,200ha he manages for MJ & SC Collins based on the Hertfordshire/Essex border. The area is down this year, with the introduction of beans into the rotation, and damage loss from sustained Flea Beetle attacks. In recent seasons establishment has been with a Vaderstad Top Down, allied to a press and rolls to conserve moisture, reduce Flea Beetle damage and to improve herbicide performance. John is now also looking at how the farm’s Horsch Sprinter may be utilised for OSR sowing in some soil conditions. He reports OSR had been the best break crop for the farm, providing they can consistently achieve the yields to justify the forward loading of costs to establish and grow the crop.
- On the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, Oliver Smith manages 600 hectares for Stourton Estates, along with a further 200ha of contract farming. This year he has 115ha oilseed rape, which he reported is around 25 per cent down on the area grown in the past. It will reduce the entry for first wheat, but does mean the rotational break for OSR will be extended. Oliver typically grows three OSR varieties a year, selected for proven consistency on the farm. It is established by strip till, using a Sumo DTS drill.
- Cambridgeshire grower, Philip Bradshaw, has pioneered various establishment techniques and variety trials, including the use of a Sly Stripcat to establish OSR and mustard crops, with strip cultivation at 60cm rows. Farming as part of a group of growers, they have around 100 hectares of OSR. Phil aims for a four-year rotation, but will readily adjust the area to only crop where he believes they can achieve profitable yields. The farm averages yields of 4.7 t/ha, with the best performing crop from a stand of just 16 plants per m2 – so he is adamant low plant counts are not a problem, providing pest damage can be avoided. Phil added that the reduction in sugar beet growing in the area has seen an upsurge in oilseed rape growing.