Spring oats are on their way now despite the efforts of the crows. You can just see the empty husk of an oat seed bottom left of the photo. Anywhere the slot left by the drill had not been closed, they were in looking for seed to eat. So did cultivation type make any difference to which block emerged first? Was it autumn cultivated and direct drilled, direct drilled after a cover crop or stubble cultivated just before the drill? Answer, not really. The biggest single difference was soil type and seed to soil contact along with available moisture. The cover crop area has been behind both other methods, but is coming now. There is probably more clay content here, which dried out much more than the lighter soils in the cold easterlies. What has made a bigger difference, is where we have used some cleaned, but untreated, spring barley seed that has come through the ground in under a week. The treated seed has been a couple of days behind. Everything could do with a drink, but there doesn’t seem to be any rain in the near future, despite the Met Office promising the odd shower. These seem to disappear as we get nearer to the forecast arrival time of said rainfall.
The winter wheat is just reaching growth stage 30/31, normally time for the T0 application of fungicide and growth regulator. The latter is going on now, all be it at a reduced dose. There is no disease threatening the crop so there is no fungicide included. Hopefully it will stay clean until the end of the month, so that a cheaper treatment can be used to carry it through to the important flag leaf application. This should be a good year for variable growth regulation, but the crops are so uneven that the application maps make it nearly impossible for the sprayer to keep up with the changes.
We are testing a new to the UK data transfer and variable application system this year alongside our current system. It’s called Field View by The Climate Corporation which is actually part of Monsanto, now Bayer. It uses an ingenious hub that plugs into the tractor’s diagnostics socket, then communicates with an iPad in the tractor using Bluetooth technology. Data flows in both directions and is stored in the cloud. It’s early days yet and I am still in the process of setting it up. The date transfer looks good but I am struggling to create prescriptions. That side seems a bit clunky compared to the Soyl system, but I think it has potential. We have also just started work on another data project with Reading University which looks to be really exciting. It should be a fascinating few months, as we get to grips with this and work to bring the crops towards a successful harvest.