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Appropriate cultivation and drilling techniques, seed treatments and careful nutrition will help maximise establishment whilst minimising compaction and fuel use.

  • Establishment is the most critical phase in determining yield
  • Soil structure and drainage play a vital part in plant health
  • Nutrient availability is particularly important, particularly phosphate
  • Cultivations can help manage difficult grass-weeds, for example rotation ploughing, direct drilling and minimal soil disturbance in the spring.

Establishment of the crop is the most critical phase in determining final output. Growers who do not focus enough attention on good establishment will have already limited their yield and therefore the cost per tonne of production will automatically increase.

Good establishment is about preparation. Adequate drainage and healthy soil structure are vital factors as, without them, the roots will not be able to maximise their capability and plant health will already be compromised. Frontier’s Soil Life service will help growers identify problem areas and provide recommendations for remedial action. Compaction is a particular issue on many farms that will hinder establishment so the choice of cultivation technique and timing is key.

The availability of nutrients, particularly phosphate, to an emerging crop will play a pivotal role in the success of establishment. This is particularly true for oilseed rape, where 3D trial work has shown significant yield benefits from autumn applications of nitrogen and phosphate. The role phosphate plays in promoting rooting means early applications are the most beneficial and this is further optimised by placement near the roots because of the slow movement of phosphate in the soil.

The inclusion of over-winter cover crops before a spring crop in the rotation has been proven to help improve soil structure, aid the mobility of water through the soil profile, add organic material back into the soil and capture nitrogen before it leaches away. Over time, this improves the friability and workability of the soil and, combined with precision drilling, allows you to optimise seed rates and minimise early pest issues, leading to more uniform establishment.


Take a Precise Approach

Crop-Production-SOYLCareful analysis of the soil profile allows growers to determine the most appropriate cultivation method, timing and depth. Variable rate cultivation, combined with variable seeding, protects the soil from further compaction whilst optimising the plant population for uniform establishment. SOYL, a division of Frontier Agriculture, is the leading precision crop production service provider in the UK. To find out more about how they can help, please click here.

3D Thinking in Action

Frontier is studying the effects of a range of establishment techniques from direct drilling to ploughing. Ongoing trials are looking at the impact of cover crops, starter fertilisers and the use of variable width rows on crop architecture and establishment. To find out more about 3D Thinking in Action, please click here.

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