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Arable

Soil condition is key for late drilling success Drills on farms across the country will have been flat out since mid-October with many farmers having waited for the main flush of black-grass to occur.

With the final window of opportunity for winter wheat drilling upon us, Dominic Kilburn seeks some last minute tips and advice for growers to achieve the best possible crop establishment prior to winter. First things first; if it’s chucking it down as you read this then keep reading, as there’s little point in trying to maul the last of your winter wheat acreage into the ground in poor conditions, particularly at this late stage of the drilling window. However, the chances are that there will be many growers who will have delayed the start of their wheat drilling campaign more than usual to try and avoid peak flushes of blackgrass, and may still have a large chunk of drilling yet to be completed. Northants-based AICC and Indigro Ltd agronomist, Damian McAuley (right) advises that peak blackgrass emergence usually occurs during the first two weeks in October and so, weather depending, drills on farms across

the country will have been flat out since then. “For wheat drilling still to be completed, certainly from here on, the practicalities of getting the crop in the ground in suitable conditions become more challenging. However, it is essential that drilling and spraying operations are still conducted to the highest standard, without compromise, to ensure good establishment and a fine, consolidated seedbed on which the pre-ems can work to their best effect,” commented Damian. Although growers have received a plethora of advice on the best way to control black-grass over the past few seasons, Damian reminds them that residual herbicide chemistry is still the key aspect of any black-grass control strategy,

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but it must be applied in the right conditions. “Hopefully they will have completed any deep cultivations early and, since then, not moved the ground any deeper than two inches to prevent the movement of fresh blackgrass seed into the germination zone. This would have allowed black-grass in the seeding zone the opportunity to emerge and be sprayed off with glyphosate – perhaps more than once. “Irrespective of the number of glyphosate applications, it is very important that growers make the final one no more than a few days before drilling to avoid another flush between spraying and drilling, and no less than 48hrs before drilling to ensure translocation of the herbicide into the black-grass root. “Another advantage of drilling late in the season is that soil-acting residuals can be more effective in the moister, cooler conditions usually experienced at this time of year, although it still depends on growers achieving a good seedbed ahead of drilling and good consolidation after, for the best results,” he said. “A consolidated seedbed is also better in terms of reducing the threat from slugs, but bear in mind the stewardship of metaldehyde pellets and consider ferric phosphate alternatives where necessary,” he added.

of residuals being applied postem of the weed where herbicide performance can be seriously compromised.” “High water rates of up to 300-litres/ha, twin spray lines if possible, angled nozzles, a 50cm operating boom height and 10–12kph speeds are all important considerations,” he highlighted. “It’s all about risk management,” continued Damian. “It’s essential not to compromise establishment in any way in order to get a rapidly emerging crop that can provide competition against the weeds, and that all comes down to the weather and ground conditions, and how much capacity an individual farm has got. “We know that weather forecasts are pretty accurate for five days ahead and so they will be able to judge what they can get done in the window available, however some of my growers have geared up their farms with two drills to ensure they have sufficient capacity to get the acreages completed at this time of the season.” Ideally, seeds will be placed into compaction-free soils and deep enough to be out of reach of pre-em herbicides like Avadex (tri-allate) – a minimum 40mm soil depth – and Liberator (flufenacet + DFF) – 32mm – for winter wheat crop safety, he said. “Seed rates by this stage of the season need to be up around 400 seeds/m2 as a general guide to make up for reduced tillering, and of course there is still the option of moving over to spring wheat which can also be drilled late in the autumn but will still need a full agrochemical application pre-Christmas, so the situation might dictate that they are better off sown in the spring.” Although BYDV is normally a decreasing threat at this time in the autumn, Damian highlighted the fact that, last season, aphids were continued over...

Nothing new Damian stressed that while there’s “no new story” in terms of weed control products it’s absolutely critical that pre-emergence applications are made when it really is “pre-emergence” of the weed. “If growers start thinking that the weather is good and that they can come back and do the pre-ems a bit later, there’s a real risk

The soil must be the first consideration driving management; specifically soil in a fit condition to drill.

www.farmersguide.co.uk November 2016

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15/10/2016 14:53

November 2016  

Farmers Guide Magazine November 2016 Issue

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