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Precision placement sets OSR plants for high yield potential

Product Update
27.02.2017
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Chris Eglington - iOSR grower
Chris Eglington - iOSR grower

Giving oilseed rape plants the room to grow and make best use of the improved soil conditions and agronomy inputs is integral to high yields for the latest Syngenta iOSR meeting host, Chris Eglington.

And at the heart of that is his own designed and farm-built precision drilling system (below), incorporating a sugar beet drill that delivers accurate seed placement. Working at 57 cm row spacing, that means a seed every 8.75 cm for 20 seeds per m2 or seven cm for a 25 seeds per m2.

After several trial incarnations of the farm’s drill, the seed placement units are now at the back, behind a tillage train incorporating leg lifters, cultivation and disc press packers. The farm's Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) system means that it has a relatively low power requirement as it looks to move as little soil as possible to create a good tilth and even seedbed or precision placement and plant establishment. The system can successfully drill up to of 20 hectares a day.”

“We have never yet experienced any problems with lack of moisture for establishment,” reported Chris. “The front subsoil tines have always pulled up sufficient soil moisture for the seed placement into good conditions. But the key has been to ensure sufficient consolidation to hold the available moisture for the seedling.

“With the CTF it is essential to get sufficient consolidation where the wheels are not running,” he advised. “We always double roll the OSR with a heavy set of 16 meter Cambridge rolls; making one pass then moving across eight meters for a second pass. That extra press really makes a difference.” 

Lincolnshire iOSR grower, Andrew Ward, added: “The size, and most impressively the strength, of every plant in the row shows that precision placement is so important for oilseed rape establishment and its yield potential."

“The combination of Chris’ drilling, with the soil conditions created by the CTF system, has produced an incredibly consistent and extremely impressive even crop across the whole field.”

CTF on track

Strict adherence to a Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) system is already paying dividends in improved soil structure for faster and stronger crop establishment for Syngenta iOSR meeting host, Chris Eglington.

One of the main challenges has been getting everyone involved, including straw contractors, harvest hauliers and livestock operators, to appreciate the need to stick to the tramlines at all times, he reported. 

There has been significant investment required to install GPS hardware with the reliability and accuracy to keep on track, along with new machinery to fit the system, including a larger combine and trailer capacity. “We’ve had the headaches and costs of being an early pioneer, but we’ve future-proofed for the coming years and, agronomically, should continue to get better over the coming years.”

Chris highlighted there have been some limitations, such as harvesting can be slower with longer journey time for trailers staying on the tramlines and clearing straw bales to the headland staying on the tracks. One field where the soil types were so variable, from light to heavy, the field did have to be spilt for cultivations. Installation of new drains - an ongoing project – also compromised the CTF pattern. But, overall, it’s been a real success.

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