Farmer Focus: 5 Lessons From The 2020-2021 Cropping Season


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Richard Harris Emily Fleur Photography
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We are at the end of what it’s safe to say has been a somewhat disappointing harvest.

Time now to reflect on the season, highlighting the good, bad, and ugly in preparation to improve before we start all over again.

Even though it’s an annual occurence, the list never seems to get much smaller! We’re either slow learners or too impatient in trying to reach the next milestone.

Whether that be yield, quality, economic, environmental, or social goals.

What did we learn from 2020-2021?

  1. That direct drilling winter wheat after spring linseed could be one of the easiest entries. Soil structure was extremely friable and well structured, leading to a very pleasing autumn and winter establishment adding value to the break crop in the rotation.
  2. Our wheat blend out yielded the straights by 0.9t/ha on average, based on combine yield maps. So, nothing official and with some known field variation, but potentially points us in the right direction.
  3. Grazing winter wheat increased yield by 0.3t/ha based on combine yield maps in a single split field situation. This surprised us, as the sheep entered the field far too late in our opinion, but the result indicates otherwise. Something we’ll expand on for this season.
  4. A dry and cold spring leads to poor spring barley and linseed establishment in a no-till system. Therefore, a set of discs has been purchased for chits of volunteers/weeds along with tilth and moisture creation in a dry spring to get crops away.
  5. Moving away from insecticides isn’t without its yield or quality penalties. The wheat was stunted in patches with barley yellow dwarf virus, with the linseed taking a grazing from the flax beetle. Both economically damaging in the short term. Let’s hope the long-term benefits are there, as we will persist for the coming season without the use of them.

Although the trials and tribulations of the growing season can lead to despair at times, with a lot of significant factors out of our control.

We must remember that it wouldn’t be much fun if everything was plain sailing! Or would it? Never the less, we’ll be entering the autumn with the usual high hopes, quoting Del Boy, “One day Rodney, we’ll be millionaires…”

(H/T: FW)

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