Winter barley is looking good despite our 'rocket fuel' gambit
Although the snow drops have made an appearance, the daffodils are very slow to show themselves. I can't blame them with all the cold wintry weather. The crops are showing the signs of stress from the weather too. The fields that got the farm yard manure or chicken manure are holding their colour better than others.
We spread dried chicken litter on one of the winter barley fields and ploughed it in. Shortly afterwards, we read an article from Teagasc about putting out "rocket fuel" on winter crops.
We were very nervous that we had made the wrong decision and would it do more harm than good. However, when the crop started to look stressed and hungry a few weeks ago, it turned around in a couple of days. I wonder did the roots reach the ploughed-in manure just at the right time.
It looks good and green but we will be watching it very carefully.
The other field that received the chicken litter, also that had chopped straw ploughed in, was struggling even more. I think the straw was using the manure to break down rather than being available to the plant.
We have been to many farm walks and tillage conferences that encourage us to chop our straw back into the soil.
We have to be careful that we are not overloading the system and asking it to do too much.
The biology needs to be in the ground to help break down the straw. A few weeks later this field of winter barley seemed to green up again. It is very important that they keep as many of the tillers as possible.