Crop Walking with Andy Fussell


Before the Christmas break, it was time to check the crops on the 212 Ha farming operation involving land we own, currently rent and contract farm.

The photos below show a 6.48 ha field we farm at Lydes Farm, Buckland Dinham on the outskirts of Frome. We have rented the 49.35 ha’s of ground now for 5 years, this year we are growing 29.15 Ha's (72 Acres) of Oil Seed Rape (OSR) and 20.2 Ha’s (50 acres) of Winter Barley.

The OSR in photo No. 1 is looking like it could be the best OSR crop we have established for a very long time. It was planted around the last week in August. The seed was drilled into an even, fine and moist seedbed and then rolled slowly to get good soil to seed contact in order to consolidate the ground and to conserve moisture. The result as you can see is a very even plant population, no gaps or areas missing, plus easily seen, precise GPS assisted straight tramlines. These tramlines demonstrate how accurate we can be when administering fertilizer and fungicide in the spring so to avoid over use of chemicals or over use of initial seed when planting. Good for both the bank account and the environment.

Photo No. 2 shows me inspecting a plant of OSR for any fungal infection and to see if we have any Flee Beetle eggs in the stem of the plant as this could cause a problem later on in the year. It is very important that we are vigilant with all our crops. We walk all our crops at least once a fortnight at this time of year, then in the spring when the temperature rises we are out there every couple of days looking for potential disease and pest issues.

In contrast to photo No. 1, photo No. 3 shows how an area affected by flee beetle can be seriously damaged and plant population decimated, thus resulting in a massive drop in eventual yield of seed from those areas.

The damage that the plant itself incurs when hit by flee beetle is shown in photo No. 4, note the holes in the leaves and the nibbles taken out of the sides of the leaves, these little critters are relentless when they get going and take an awful lot of stopping. They will eat the plant right back to the stem itself if not stopped, then you have only one option….plough it all up and have another go or wait until the spring and try another crop!!

Andy

Photos as listed above:

Photo No. 1

Photo No. 2

Photo No. 3

Photo No. 4

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