It’s all in the detail.


Alex Borthwick, CJM Cottingham Ltd, Market Rasen

“We started creating our stale seedbeds on Saturday, we have ploughed and done a first pass with the cultivator to try and create a stale seedbed before the winter wheat is drilled.

It’s early and conditions are good. There’s talk of low black-grass dormancy and we have possibly buried some of that seed, which perhaps we shouldn’t have done but we are thinking to the crop coming this year. It’s vital that we get as many flushes as we can. We have got a good opportunity to do that as our harvest finished about a fortnight earlier than usual this year.

Within reason, we try to treat each field differently. We get on the fields as frequently as we can to see what is going on. I walk all the stubbles before we do any operation to see if there is any black-grass coming to ear or growing through the stubble which we will burn off before we do any ploughing. We have burnt off some of the stubbles this year, not all of them. We also have a bit of couch grass creeping in so we are going round spraying that off.

We will be keeping a constant eye on the fields where we have created a stale seed bed and not just what is on top of the ground. We will be having a bit of a scratch down to see what is germinating underneath the surface; what else is coming through, to try and see if we hold off drilling for another few days in order to get another flush. Depending on what’s germinating we might try and move the soil again shallowly. This has worked well for us in the last few years. We will start drilling the low risk fields at the start of October but will wait until the middle of October for the bad black-grass land.

Quite a few of the bad black-grass fields were in with spring barley this year are going to be in spring barley again next year so the job in the next few days is to go round those and see what’s happening. We try to create stale seedbeds before the spring crops. In those fields we will just lightly disc them over to try and get a flush (given the low dormancy) on them before ploughing late in the autumn.

This year we have been putting the drone up over the fields as I find it is a good way of getting a visual assessment across the field. It certainly helped with wild oats, we were able to see where we had missed a few small patches, not enough to spray the whole field but it allowed us to target spray these areas.”