The farmer-owned oilseed specialists
< Back to list

A little lateral thinking is called for

Date Added: 05/06/2017

Blog: By Richard Elsdon, Technical Consultant, United Oilseeds

The idea of lateral thinking is generally credited to Edward de Bono who in 1967 used the example of the “Judgement of Solomon” to illustrate his view. You may remember that there was a dispute between two women as to which one was the rightful mother of a child. King Solomon threatened to cut the child in half (as he knew that the real biological mother would ask for the child to be given to the other woman in order to spare its life.)

I think that looking at problems from a different perspective can often produce an answer when conventional ideas do not suffice. We can use this process in agriculture. In particular, to put a different slant on the thorny problem of establishing clover in a ley where there may be a variety of annual weeds to control.

The advantages of clover in a ley, be it short or long are well known. The forage has a higher protein content, providing improved animal production, and it will contribute nitrogen to the ley reducing the need for purchased fertiliser.

So far so good, but what about the weed problem? There are herbicides available to control many of the problem weeds in newly sown leys. However, the level of control from herbicides which do not harm the clover can, at best, be variable. This can lead to a large drop in production, just when the ley should be really motoring.

We now have clover seed available which has been pelleted and, in the process, treated with Headstart. This is a bio stimulant which helps the seedling overcome the symptoms of stress induced by drought, cold temperatures or shade. A combination of seaweed, enzymes, natural bio-nutrients and trace elements with an osmotic attracter (to assist the attraction and absorption of water) enables Headstart GOLD to deliver improved plant establishment. This in turn ensures that the maximum number of clover seeds produces a viable plant.

This is where the lateral thinking comes in. It is easier to control weeds in a newly sown ley which does not contain seedling clover. I am suggesting that to begin with, clover is left out of the mixture. Establish the grass seeds, then control the weeds and carry on to either the first grazing or cut of silage. As soon as this has taken place. either broadcast or direct drill the pelleted clover seed and roll it in.

The advantages of this establishment technique are that the broadleaved weeds have been removed and the clover will be established when the soil is warm, leading to rapid emergence and better quality forage.

At today’s prices nitrogen, in the form of ammonium nitrate, costs circa £200 per tonne. This relates to a price of 57 pence per kg. Well managed clover can contribute up to 150 kg of nitrogen per hectare, during a growing season, worth £85 per hectare. This is before any improvement in livestock output is calculated.

There is no doubt that clover can produce substantial savings in fertiliser and produce a worthwhile improvement in livestock output. Is it not time that you considered this method of establishing a new ley to gain these benefits?

All it takes is a little lateral thinking.

Pelleted clover is available from Hubbards Seeds - Call your local United Oilseeds Area Manager for details. See us at Cereals 2017, Boothby Graffoe, Lincs 14-15 June 2017

< Back to list
© Copyright 2017 United Oilseeds  |  Developed by Boson Media