Farmyard manure is a ready solution to rising fertiliser costs
While an early spring is still possible this week's forecast will delay field work for another while. At this stage plans for the spring should be in place and machinery ready to go when conditions allow.
The three-crop rule may be more difficult to satisfy this year as some farmers failed to get winter cereals sown, but some early sowing may make this a little easier. Growers are well advised to refrain from working soils that are not in good condition as yields will suffer if crops are mucked in.
Spring beans should be the first crop to be considered. Sow to a 10cms depth and target a seed rate of about 35 seeds/m2. Remember this is a six-month crop so the earlier it is sown the earlier the harvest.
If you have ground that is following a break crop such as beans, rape, beet or maize, spring wheat should be considered and should be the next crop to be planted.
Spring oats should also be considered for early sowing and can follow any crop and is a good break crop in its own right.
The seed rate should be determined by the seed size for all crops, but you should plan for approx 350 seeds/m2 for both wheat and oats. Many will consider it too early for planting barley, but if you know your ground and have dry fields in good condition barley can be planted towards the end of the month.
Aim to establish approx. 350 plants/m2 also but you may have to use higher seed rates when drilling to allow for losses. Remember: leaving poor land fallow or sowing grass in an arable field will also help to satisfy the three-crop rule.
Check your soil samples and if your P and K levels are low consider combine drilling the fertiliser with the seed. We are noting an increase in applications under TAMS for combined seed and fertiliser drills. Many farmers are now realising the potential yield penalties associated with low fertility soils. Applying fertiliser close to the seed is a necessity for higher yields.