We have made a good start to the New Year in both sectors of the business; the farm looks particularly well and the same can be said for many of the regions in which Claydon are active. This is in complete contrast to the situation many of you were in last year, unless you were using the Opti-Till® system. The majority of Claydon users, although affected by the adverse weather in autumn 2017 and the following winter, had a surprisingly good harvest despite the very dry and hot summer.
The feedback from customers in all regions has been very, very positive again. This proves how reliably the Claydon Opti-Till® System works in all soil types and conditions, particularly as the soil’s health improves.
The weather conditions here at Wickhambrook have been ideal in the last couple of weeks so last Tuesday 29th January we took advantage of the frosty mornings and started drilling our spring beans, variety Vertigo, seed rate 250kg / ha. A total of 16 hectares are planned.
Having inspected the fields and after assessing the soil it was an easy decision to start seeding as the soil is in perfect condition. The field had been sprayed off previously on the 14th November, the worm activity in the field was prevalent, as it is across the whole farm. This particular field is part of the original homestead in the middle of the village and has had no deep cultivations for 16 years!
You can see how good the condition of the soil is, which is what we would expect following years of no cultivating, Several flushes of volunteers and grass weeds were eliminated with the Straw Harrow. The worm numbers have increased dramatically with plenty of middens on the surface showing their activity.
The beans were drilled using the bean coulter attachment which is fitted with a carbide tungsten tip. It only takes about an hour for one person to convert the 6m drill from cereal crops to drilling beans.
The conversion is a very simple operation which uses a special tool and a firm tap with a hammer. The bean chute seen in the middle picture is fitted in place of the splitter boot. It is held in place by a single bolt that is recessed to eliminate wear.
The soil conditions enabled the drill to place the beans to a depth of 3.5” deep into very crumbly soil – near perfect conditions. The soil is very friable, ensuring excellent seed-to-soil contact and, with the ski boards and harrows at the rear of the drill, this left the seedbed in an ideal condition. This will hopefully allow us to treat the soil before the beans emerge, should we get a flush of weeds. It will also allow us to use the harrow as a mechanical weed control method. We will keep you posted on progress.
Another benefit of Opti-Till® is the ability of the soil to support heavy field traffic. This is as a consequence of the strip-drilling effect of the drill; the leading tine cultivates zonally where the seed is placed, leaving the rest of the field untouched. As the soil stabilises, root residue builds up and worm activity increases, creating a firm pillar in the soil that is kept alive by the microbial activity. This provides many benefits including shallow tramlines and field trafficability.
You can see how well the soil supports traffic in the picture above, showing shallow tramlines from the previous year. This is replicated across the farm. Although the frost was starting to recede, the soil was supporting the tractor pulling the 6m Hybrid very well, due to the soil pillars.