Drilling harvest 17 rape crop

Normally we would commence drilling our Oilseed Rape crop from about the 10 th of August. This year due to the lack of rain during the end of July and throughout August we decided to delay the drilling this year. With thunder storms forecast last night, we were hopeful that we were going to catch some rain to replenish the soil moisture. Unfortunately in total we only recieved about 3 mm, although this is not enough to keep the plant growing for long once it starts to establish, with our low disturbance drilling technique it has enabled us to plant the seed in some surface moisture. Hopefully it will not be to long now until we get a decent rain.

As you can see from the photo, the drill has three tanks on it. The first tank holds the seed, the second tank holds fertiliser and the last tank on the toolbar of the drill is carrying slug pellets. We drill the fertiliser with a knife coulter to a depth of about 5 cm. The fertiliser that we use is called DAP this is a blend of both Nitrogen and Phosphate. This gives the plant enough nutrient for it to establish well in the autumn to survive the colder winter months. The soil then settles back behind the knife coulter before the seed is placed on top, once the plant starts to grow the roots grow down into the soil where the fertiliser is placed. The wheels on the back of the drill then firm the soil around the seed to provide good seed to soil contact as well as ensuring that the soil does not dry out. The slug pellets are then broadcast on the surface with the boom that is mounted behind the drill. The pellets are metered out to give an acurate rate, we use mini wet process pellets. This means that we are able to use less active ingredient with more baiting points, hopefully reducing the amount of pesticide that can get into the watercourses.

We use variable rates for our rape seeding based on the different soil types across our farm, in the middle of the fields we are aiming to establish about 30 plants. Some places in the field the seedrate can be very low sometimes as low as just 1.5 kg/ha. On the outside run of the field we double the seedrate, we are aiming for a much thicker establishment of plants around the edge of the field. This is because we get a lot more pest attack (Birds,Snails,Flea beetle) from the the hedges and field margins.