How to best manage your AB15: Two-year sown legume fallow

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Countryside Stewardship schemes have always been part of the UK farming industry, but with the changes to Basic Payment Schemes (BPS), the future of farming is changing. A good Stewardship scheme can be an integral part of all farming businesses and is a great way to fill the gap that's caused by the losses in BPS.

When advising growers, I regularly discuss Countryside Stewardship options and how they can be integrated into the farm business. These conversations are with many types of growers who have farms of many different sizes, from large estates to smaller family run units.

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Grassweed series: Stubble management for grassweed control

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Last month we published the first in our series of blogs on grassweed management, looking specifically at black-grass, its characteristics and the strategies to take pre-harvest. You can read the blog here.

As with management before harvest, efforts to control grassweeds are crucial post-harvest too. Cultivation strategies during this time can have a significant impact on the overall grassweed burden for the following crop, but it is important to understand the biology of the individual species in order to use cultural options to the best effect. 

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Grassweed series: Black-grass management pre-harvest

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Black-grass is major problem on many UK farms and it is now widely accepted that fully integrated solutions to manage the weed are fundamental to achieving any kind of success. Ultimately, most approaches are aimed at limiting seed return in order to reduce the overall population pressure.

In this blog, I discuss a number of management options that should be considered pre-harvest to reduce seed return and which should form part of an overall, long term plan to eradicate the weed.

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Spring barley drilling dates and yield performance

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If you were to ask an agronomist the question, "When should I drill my spring barley?" the most likely answer would be, "In the spring".

While completely correct, the spring covers a fairly significant period in the first quarter of the year and within that time frame, depending on when you decide to take action, you can experience some very different outcomes. With that in mind, it's important to really dissect the spring drilling window to get a better understanding of the potential results we're dealing with. 

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The laws of physics or the rules of nature?

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When I was a lad at school the laws of physics, including Newton's third rule " for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, " seemed of little consequence to me. However, as I grew up I came to realise that the laws of physics are all around us every day and life is bound inextricably to them. To a certain extent nature applies its ow...
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Hold your nerve – don’t drill fields with bad black-grass until mid-October

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The drilling of cereals is progressing at pace in many parts of the UK, with the majority of crops going into good seedbeds. However, there are some areas that could do with a decent night's rain and, more importantly, those who have fields with a black-grass problem should actually be prepared to wait. Managing black-grass It is now well accepted ...
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Weathering the weather

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Cultivation and drilling strategy for 2018/19 Weather, a subject always of interest to farmers, seems more topical than ever. Today's 'drought summit' sees NFU president, Minette Batters meeting Whitehall officials amid fears that the heatwave could have a serious affect on food production. The implications of drought are wide ranging for agricultu...
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Has tram lining weed seed brought something new to the party when it comes to black-grass management?

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Five months on since harvest feels like a good time to review what, if anything, tram lining has added to the armoury when it comes to the management of black-grass.By way of a re-cap, Frontier Agriculture, in collaboration with EW Davies farms Ltd, Rothamsted, AHDB and Primary Sales from Western Australia, installed a 'chaff deck' onto farmer Jere...
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Is it too early to start or too late to begin?

The quandary over when drilling winter wheat in the winter should be replaced by spring wheat in the spring, or when spring wheat should be drilled in the winter continues to surface at this time of year. The answer may not revolve around the cultivar but more around the reasons for the discussion. If we knew that black-grass was no longer going to...
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Controlling black-grass with a cultural method - is that possible?

Controlling black-grass in a rotation is a regular topic of conversation for many farmers – looking at how to best maintain, control and, more importantly, get on top of black-grass. After decades of research across the industry and experts recommending key steps on how to master the spread of this prolific weed, the simple answer is that sadly the...
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Conditions looking good for early sown OSR... and weeds

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With soils generally moist and temperatures typically around 14-16oC, conditions are looking good for early sown OSR. However, inevitably this means conditions are also good for weed growth and we're already seeing flushes of black-grass emerging in young crops as seen in this emerging rape crop near Colchester earlier this week. Timing is everythi...
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Mid-Tier - five minutes to change your mind

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Given my role, you will not be surprised to learn that I am almost fanatical about getting land managers and farmers to take a look at Countryside Stewardship and particularly Mid Tier agreements. Oh no, I hear you groan! But give me five minutes and I will change your mind... It can't hurt to take a look, can it? I know from my conversations, both...
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