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Stern test for machinery at cultivation event

Farmers Guide provides a preview of the host farm for Power in Action 2013

Ahead of next weeks Power in Action demonstration and as long-time event organiser, Farmers Guide provides a preview of the host farm which is situated in south west Suffolk.Power in Action 2013 is due to take place at Little Bradley Farm, near Haverhill by kind permission of RL Clifton-Brown & Son.Colin Clifton-Brown is the third generation of his family to farm the land that is hosting this years Power in Action event, the Clifton-Browns having bought the farm in the 1940s. The Hanslope Series boulder clay on which machinery will be working ensures that in conditions that are wet or dry, equipment will have to perform well to achieve a good result.The farm extends to approximately 670ha (1,650 acres), almost all of which is arable, with just 28ha (70 acres) of grass within the total. Land around Haverhill is more undulating than in most other areas of Suffolk, and, although the farm cannot be described as hilly, there are a few slopes.Many of the fields are well drained, the number of under drains having been gradually increased over the years, although Colin does admit there are still a few wet spots.The soil makes for good productive wheat land and crops include winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape and beans, the rotation typically two wheats followed by a break crop.
Cultivations in a typical year are for first wheats; one pass with a Simba SL tine and disc cultivator, followed by a Simba or Knight press, and then the crop is established with a Vaderstad Rapid disc coulter drill. After the first wheats, land is usually ploughed, pressed twice, and then drilled.Oilseed rape is established with a seeder mounted on a Cousins V-Form subsoiler.
Black-grass isnt too much of a problem on the farm, something Colin attributes to a determined programme of control over the years; “In the past we used Avadex (tri-allate), Trooper (flufenacet + pendimethalin), IPU, Treflan (trifluralin) and Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron), and still on most fields use a mixture of Trooper, Atlantis and Avadex. We try to create a stale seedbed where possible and spray off with Roundup (glyphosate) pre-drilling, but last year conditions were too dry so it wasnt particularly successful.”Up until this harvest granular fertiliser has been used, applied through a Kuhn Axxis spreader, and spraying has been carried out using a Sands self-propelled 24m sprayer. The farm is moving to liquid fertiliser application and has invested in a new, wider 30m Sands sprayer to carry out both spraying and fertilising for the new seasons cropping.The land for the Power in Action event is in one block, with a concrete track separating some of the fields. The demonstration will occupy approximately 50 hectares (125 acres) across four fields; 17.6ha (43 acres), 9.8ha (24 acres), 7.5ha (18 acres) and 15.3ha (38 acres). A 2.7ha (7 acre) grass field is available for static stands, as well as car and lorry parking.Crops recently harvested from the four fields were all first wheats. Varieties included Oakley, Relay, Target and Santiago. “All four were drilled within a week of each other in late September last year,” said Colin. “Conditions at the time were difficult, due to the lack of rain, and cultivations included ploughing and two passes with the press before drilling, and then the surface was consolidated with the rolls. It was so dry that we very nearly took the decision to stop drilling and wait for some moisture, but with the benefit of hindsight knowing how wet it became, and remained through the winter, we are very relieved that we carried on.Even after all the cultivations though, the seedbed was very nobbly, and when it did turn wet we experienced severe slug problems which required four light doses of slug pellets to keep under control.”
The largest of the fields for the demonstration is the worst for black-grass on the farm, and Colin explained that after the relatively unsuccessful stale seedbed, Trooper was applied peri-emergence with DFF (diflufenican), then Avadex was applied with slug pellets followed by a late application of Atlantis, due to the weather. Three fungicides were needed and then two growth regulators were applied.Although conditions were less than ideal through the growing season, the tramlines are only of average depth so should not cause problems for machinery being demonstrated.
Colin has requested that for ease of future land management, similar cultivation types are used on individual fields, rather than mixing ploughing operations with minimum tillage. “The land is coming for second wheats, and ideally we would have subsoiled the tramlines and then ploughed as early as possible,” he explained. “We hope that exhibitors will work to a commercial standard and complete their plots and, once the demonstration is finished, we will finish off the ploughed fields with our plough, and the min-till fields will be cultivated. There will be a mix of finishes, but hopefully not in the same field.”A major benefit for the host farmer, as well as having quite a large area of land cultivated in a short time, is the ability to see many different machines working on the same day, in the same conditions on his own land. “I am hoping to be able to compare several different means of establishing oilseed rape,” said Colin, “as the method we use is quite slow and power-hungry. Because of the importance of getting the crop established early it would be a benefit if we could find a means of speeding up the operation.”Secondary cultivations are also something we are keen to see demonstrated, particularly different press and tine arrangements. We get on well with our Simba press, but are keen to compare the job it does with what is achieved by other machines on the market. It is an ideal opportunity to see everything operating in the same working conditions,” he said.POWER IN ACTION FACTS
When: Wednesday, 4th September
Where:  Norley Moat Farm, Haverhill, Suffolk CB9 7JN (just off the A143, north of Haverhill there will be signs to the event).
Open: 10am4pm
For more information, visit our Power In Action mini-site:

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