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DRILL MANUFACTURERS

IN FOCUS...

CORRECT ESTABLISHMENT IS VITAL TO GET THE BEST FROM SPRING-SOWN CROPS Spring crops have become an increasingly important component in many arable rotations, but to deliver best performance they must be established correctly, writes Jeff Claydon, who farms in Suffolk and designed the Claydon OptiTill® System In the last issue of Direct Driller magazine, I highlighted the importance of effective stubble management in producing excellent crops and outlined how to achieve it. This time I want to look at how we deal with spring crops, of which we have 65ha this year, comprising 16ha of beans and 49ha of oats. According to the meteorological calendar, spring starts on 1 March while the astrological spring begins on 20 March but whichever measure you go by farming at a high level involves so much more than simply working to a date in the diary. Having an innate feel for everything that is happening around you and working in harmony with Mother Nature are much more important. The need for this has been illustrated quite graphically in recent years. The winter of 2017-2018 was

Worm casts on the surface are an excellent indicator of good soil health – the more, the better

42 DIRECT DRILLER MAGAZINE

Drilling spring beans on the Claydon Farm

long, cold, wet and seemed to go on forever. The weather was anything but spring-like right through until the end of April, then we had four months of severe drought. Conditions this year, at least up to the time of writing on 21 February, have been the exact opposite, with winter almost non-existent and soil temperatures already at 7°C. The contrast could not be more marked. Drilling spring crops started very early on the Claydon farm, with spring beans sown directly into over-wintered tilth with no need for a prior application of glyphosate on 29 January following

Jeff Claydon watches this year’s crop of spring beans being drilled into perfect conditions on 29 January.

over-night frost when the temperature dropped to -5°C. Soil conditions were excellent, better in fact than when we drilled winter beans in October, which just goes to show that you must take an opportunity when it presents itself. One of the hallmarks of a good farmer is that they constantly watch for the many signals which nature provides and work accordingly. This is particularly important when the countryside wakes up in the spring.

Wide window of opportunity The big advantage of the Claydon

Beans were drilled into an ideal tilth, with plenty of earthworms present.

ISSUE 5 | APRIL 2019

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Direct Driller Issue 5  

Issue 5 Of Direct Driller magazine. The conservation agriculture magazine created by farmers for farmers. Subscribe for your free print copy...

Direct Driller Issue 5  

Issue 5 Of Direct Driller magazine. The conservation agriculture magazine created by farmers for farmers. Subscribe for your free print copy...