Tillage... It's decision time for potato growers
It is at this time of year that adherence to dates can prove crucial on a tillage farm. We are past the first major date, where you can now spread organic manures or move organic manures to the field for spreading.
Spreading of organic ma-nures is not just subject to dates, it is also subject to prevailing conditions. This is just as well. Trying to negotiate wet fields with heavy loads of manure or slurry is a recipe for causing severe compaction.
Another date that has just past is for the application of Kerb, or other propyzamide based herbicide for use on oilseed rape. Propyzamide requires cold conditions to work most effectively, and must be applied before January 31 in the year of application.
Some crops are thick enough that a herbicide is not warranted - they will compete against any newly emergent weeds in the spring. Most crops however are too open to smother out weeds. Application of a herbicide therefore, is well advised. There are still some options to consider if a pre-emergent or pre-January 31 application hasn't been made. With the weather as it is, applications will probably not be made for a while, so the best solution is to hold out until growth begins before deciding.
Another date to mark on the calendar is March 1 - the final date for cutting hedges. Many hedges, especially in tillage fields, have become very overgrown to the point that they serve no purpose, except to act as a roosting point for crows and pigeons.
The best solution for these hedges is to take a tractor-mounted saw-blade to them, and cut them to a 1.4-1.6m height. Initially it will look like a butchering, but the rate of recovery to a stock-proof condition can be amazing.
Cutting back a hedge can have a hugely positive effect on the rate that a field dries out, and there are other positive effects, such as disease and pest management, improved drainage, more even crop ripening, a barrier from roaming livestock, and it also looks better.
There are many rules and regulations surrounding hedge removal, and there are also rules and regulations surrounding burning of branches.