CropTec Show 2019: Tackling Late Changes to the Rotation – Farmers Guardian – Matt Ward

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Matt Ward FarmacyCrop establishment this spring will require careful management to prevent the change in rotation further compromising crops over the next four years.

Discussing the financial implications of spring cropping on the back of a challenging autumn, Farmacy agronomist Matt Ward told an audience at CropTec: “Don’t mess up what you’re doing with a spring crop, because the 2020 harvest is already massively compromised.


“The impact we have this spring on the ongoing rotation is much more important than the actual choice of what we do.

“You have to do your own figures, but there is little difference between one crop or the other this spring as long as it enables you to get back into a productive first wheat relatively quickly.

“My figures showed it was a mistake to follow spring wheat or spring barley with a winter wheat because the potential productivity of that winter wheat crop is lost, or the risk is soils are compromised and the output from that second cereal is reduced. It would need a break crop, meaning its not until year four in that scenario that you get to a normal, high yielding wheat crop again.

“The choice in the spring of peas, beans or linseed has a pretty small impact on the rotation.”


Headlands will also be massively compromised this spring, he added, but yield maps or historic knowledge of the field can help in deciding which parts are more likely to produce a profit.

“You’d think last year’s yield maps have no validity in what’s happening next spring, but the shapes of the poorly performing bits of the field are almost identical. The quantum of that is what varies, not the fact its poor relative to the rest. Even if you’ve only got a yield map from one year, it’s still telling you where is likely to be bad next spring. If it’s likely to be bad don’t drill it.”


Target plant population should be based on previous experience, taking into account soil type variation, seedbed conditions and weeds, he added.

“Weed pressure is particularly important in a year like this. Don’t miss the opportunity to get really good black-grass control by making sure you have enough plants to compete.”