Extraordinary times call for urgent action in tillage sector
Dairy farmers normally achieve 'Magic Day' in early April, but this year some are still buying in fodder and all are concerned as to how to manage grass this year and to have enough fodder for this winter.
Most if not all of the tillage farmer's magic days - the latest days for sowing crops - are well past. Work for spring crop sowing is at least four weeks, and in some case eight weeks behind normal. Granted, many farmers normally finish off sowing in the last few days of April but most have never experienced starting after mid-April.
Traditionally late sown crops are sown into heavy soils, which have good moisture retention, and yields can be every bit as good as earlier sown crops. We now still have many lighter soils which have not been sown.
Careful consideration must go into everything we do as any mistakes made with sowing will be considerably aggravated by late sowing. We know:
1. It is now too late to sow spring wheat, oats or beans and late - very late - for everything else.
2. Our subsoils are still wet so that even when soils are "fit" in the top few inches, machinery will compact subsoils. Use wide tyres, lowest permissible tyre pressures, reduce weights - you don't have to fill the spreader - mind headlands and keep traffic to a minimum.
3. Heavy rainfall after sowing or overtilled soils followed by drying conditions can cause soil capping.
4. Wet areas of some fields will not be fit to sow this year - stay out of them and perhaps come back later and broadcast seed into them to give ground cover; don't neglect weed control on them.