Variable Applications

Warning this post may contain themes of arable farming therefore could exceed your boredom threshold. You have been warned. Normal service will be resumed next time.

Dunsden Cliff (2)

As you can see from the image above we have extremely variable soil types. In this field alone there are 15 different soil types. Its far from flat just to add interest. Many of our fields are like this, some maybe not quite as extreme. It is therefore in my opinion a no brainer to use variable applications using GPS equipment across our farm.

We started with variable P and K back in 2005 on a few fields. When testing soil using the W pattern we got mostly index 2’s as an average. SOYL using their grid pattern for testing got the same average of 2 but with a range from index 1 up to 4. Clearly we had been over and under applying.

I did 3 years of on farm trials using the variable nitrogen system using satellite images. With yield increases above the farm standard of between 0.25 – 0.75t/ha in winter wheat we adopted this as well.

The up shot of using these techniques is to have evened up and therefore increased the average yields of our fields. We have now adopted variable seed as another method of controlling the variability in the fields. This season will also see a split trial of forage maize drilled using variable seed rates.

I am convinced that this is the way forward in the future and as we already have the necessary hardware I have been looking at other related issues. One of which is variable spray inputs.

This will be our third year of trials with variable applications of growth regulators and fungicide applications in winter wheat at T0. We have achieved 0.4t/ha yield increases in split field trials using this technique. This yield increase comes in the absence of lodging, from not damaging the plants growing on the poorer parts of the field.  This years trial in conjunction with SOYL who I originally approached with this idea will look at varying T0 and T1 fungicides and growth regulators. We will be using the above field and another more consistent field as a comparison. Using 100 lts/ha I vary the application by 20% either way with 120lts being a maximum dose rate of the active ingredients if required.

Progress and final results will all find their way into future posts.

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