GROWERS COLUMN: By Tony Gent
It’s a good start to the spring crops when sowing goes so smoothly as it has this year. On most fields, we are now approaching our ninth crop of No-till and we are now seeing a vast difference in our soil structure. It’s become like a honeycomb of wormholes with masses of biological activity.
We find the moisture consistency of the soil is much more stable, which is a big benefit to heavy soil and it has developed soil strength to carry weight which reduces damage to the soil. Mostly needing just one pass, which costs a lot less, with much less weather risk.
Since we started No-till, it has been a steep learning curve and one of the main problems has been having a suitable seed drill to suit the demanding conditions of our UK soils. This has now been solved by the development of the angled disc system.
Also, a lot of work has been done with various techniques of growing cover crops to help condition the soil. There is still a lot to learn with this, but it is showing very promising results so far.
To help farmers to get information and get in touch with those who already have experience with No-till – part of a wide concept of Conservation Agriculture – an organisation has recently been put in place called CA-UK. Details can be found at www.conservation-agriculture.co.uk, which is a member of European organisation ECAF (European Conservation Agriculture Federation).
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the annual general assembly of ECAF, which took place in Albacete. southern Spain.
It was very interesting to meet like-minded people from European counties as far apart as Portugal, Denmark, Turkey and Moldova.
A lot of interest, both in Europe and worldwide, is being shown in reduce or No-till techniques, resulting in big improvements to soil structure around the world.