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Harnessing best-practice for OSR establishment

With weather conditions presenting challenges for oilseed rape, experts are providing advice for growers on bestpractice methods and tips to ensure effective establishment this autumn.

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Having a plan to promote root growth and ease water passage will help oilseed rape get off to the best start.
Having a plan to promote root growth and ease water passage will help oilseed rape get off to the best start.
Harnessing best-practice for OSR establishment

Achieving the ideal conditions for efficient establishment and minimising the adverse effects of cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) must be based on several key factors, said Philip Wright of Wright Resolutions.

“The process starts with the combine at harvest; growers must manage residues present so they are evenly spread across the field, as opposed to being concentrated in heaps or trails.

“Chaff spread, and straw spread if relevant, should be even,” Mr Wright said.

And with many residues likely to have been removed due to the current commercial value of straw, Mr Wright highlighted minimising soil damage by harvest traffic including harvesting and bale handling kit would be vital.

 

Traffic lanes

 

Growers should prioritise keeping to known traffic lanes and reducing ground pressures to safe minimum limits, he added.

Research has indicated there is an increased damage to the crop if the CSFB migration was at or before emergence.

Mr Wright said: “Stubbles should be kept long and retain a light soil surface colour as this will help deter CSFB from laying their eggs.” Cultivations to establish the crop should be ‘minimised’ and for precise seed placement leading to efficient germination, seed is best drilled, rather than broadcast.

“Soil moisture loss can be critical, so minimising soil disturbance is vital.

“Uninhibited root growth and efficient water passage means any compaction layers must be removed.” The key to managing this compaction demands a ‘low disturbance loosening’ action to help minimise creation of a loose structure, but Mr Wright warned extreme weather over the past two seasons had compromised this.

“A low surface disturbance sward lifting effect will break any compaction present and can also allow for good root growth.


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Philip Wright
Philip Wright

"Soil moisture loss can be critical, so minimising soil disturbance is vital."

Philip Wright

Weather

 

“But the weather patterns we have seen have led to a denser soil structure below weathered surface crumb in many cases, which can present a barrier to roots and germination if the levels of soil disturbance are high,” he said.

The sward lifting effect is therefore ‘ideal’ for growers when establishing OSR.

“It retains surface soil crumb, minimises excessive disruption and reduces moisture loss,” Mr Wright said.

Mr Wright added post drilling consolidation (which could include pressing and surface rolling) is often necessary to allow for ‘good seed-to-soil contact’ and it helps to retain soil moisture which, in turn, would also be beneficial for priming the field for effective pre-em herbicide applications.

Speaking to the importance of pre-em applications in the establishment process, BASF business development manager Clare Tucker explained the advent of CSFB had ‘understandably’ led to questioning the risk of front-loading costs by using a pre-emergence herbicide.

But she said where establishment conditions looked promising, there were still reasons to consider a pre-em in the programme.

“Pre-ems are vital for preventing broad-leaved weeds growing quick, especially in the early drilled crops.

Belkar, for example, cannot be used before September 1; weeds need to be small and it is contact-acting only.

“The pre-em provides valuable residual activity of a wide spectrum of weeds and gets the weed control out of the way early before the workload demands of cereal drilling,” she said.

Pre-ems also have a valuable role to play in grass-weed control, Ms Tucker added.

“Applications are able to remove 60-70% of black-grass and provides a different low risk mode of action to clethodim for resistance management.” Despite worries over pre-ems slowing the crop down, Ms Tucker highlighted this only happens if seedbeds and seed cover are poor, or if there is heavy rainfall within 48 hours of the herbicide application, both of which can be guarded against.

Key steps to cultivation success

For growers to get ahead with their cultivations, Mr Wright said the following components would be key to achieving an effective sward lifting process:

  • A leading disc coulter to provide a clean cut through surface soil and root fibres which can pass to either side of the leg
  • A low disturbance leg with adequate lift at a low rake angle should follow, with the wing leading edges just below any compaction. The ‘lift and stretch’ action produces fissured columns and retains surface tilth and any residues rooted also remain intact
  • A rear consolidating roller provides depth control and a platform for drilling into
  • Alignment of a low disturbance soil loosening leg action to where the seed is due to be drilled can also help sweep loose surface residues clear of the seed zone
  • Consideration should be given to crop nutrition where low disturbance has been a key part of the process
Clare Tucker
Clare Tucker

Control

 

And with the bonus of Clearfield OSR technology accessible to growers, Ms Tucker said Clearfield varieties could be used where a range of weeds are expected, including problematic weeds, such as charlock and hedge mustard, which have been difficult to control with conventional chemistry.

“BASF has two herbicide options available for growers this autumn, including Clevaro (imazamox + quinmerac) and Cleranda (imazamox + metazachlor),” she said.

“Both control the widest range of broad-leaved weeds compared to any other herbicide and also remove volunteer oilseed rape to achieve the desired target population.

The trend for earlier sowing means there is a risk of over thick canopies, resulting in thin-stemmed plants which are less resilient to CSFB larvae.

Mr Wright added: “The upshot of achieving the techniques discussed will provide the ideal conditions for efficient OSR establishment and fast early growth.”

A word from the sponsor

A word from the sponsor

We are on a mission to champion OSR.

Together with UK growers, industry experts, scientists and agronomists, we are going to unlock the full potential of this profitable crop.

At BASF, we already have strong and proven solutions for OSR, with more waiting in our promising innovation pipeline.

But we also understand true success requires a holistic approach, and chemistry can only be one part of it.

That’s why the BASF Real Results Circle gets involved.

Through facilitating professional and practical knowledge exchange, we are going to strengthen UK growers’ confidence in growing OSR and help maximise profitability to give OSR the attention it deserves.

From now on we will Champion OSR Together.

 

>>To find out more about the BASF OSR initiative, visit agricentre.basf.co.uk/en/Real-Results-Circle

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