LET’S TALK OILSEED RAPE.
Mzuri Trial Farm Manager and Knowledge Exchange Officer, Ben Knight talks about
how Oilseed Rape still offers growers excellent opportunities.
“Once the much-loved favourite of the British grower, the humble Oilseed Rape crop has fallen out of favour in recent years for its inconsistent establishment and relentless pressure from pests. However despite this, the crop should not be discounted as it is still one of the best break crops in our tool kit and with the right system behind it there is no reason why it cannot continue to deliver profitable returns.”
“Like all crop’s establishment is key, but for OSR good establishment is particularly important for achieving (and maintaining) a healthy crop through to harvest. The single biggest factor is to get plants up and away as quickly and as evenly as possible. Struggling crops are an easy target for pests, who can quickly take hold and decimate a crop during the vulnerable early stages.”
“On our own trial farm and from feedback from other growers, we find that the Mzuri strip tillage system suits oilseed rape and can offer a consistent and reliable method of establishment that promotes early vigour.” “The Pro-Til consistently produces the ideal nursery seedbed for quick germination by creating tilth and placing fertiliser with the leading leg, removing air pockets with the central reconsolidation wheels and seeding at an accurate depth across the width of the drill. This combination proves ideal for oilseed rape and by giving the crop the best start, it promotes quick even, establishment across the field.”
“To make the most of the system and to preserve soil moisture reserves, we encourage our customers to leave as much of the previous crop residue on the fields surface as possible. For us at Springfield Farm this involves chopping wheat straw behind the combine and drilling directly into the mulch between the stubble rows.”
“The young oilseed rape plants thrive in this environment and the standing straw between the rows discourages pigeon activity. Often visitors to our farm are surprised by the volume of straw that we plant our oilseed rape into, but it does not hamper the crop and instead provides nutrients and increases organic matter whilst protecting soils over winter.”
“Not only does strong early growth mitigate against pigeon damage, but it also gives the crop the best chance against flea beetle. Excellent establishment combined with a variety renowned for its early vigour can bolster the crops ability to grow through the vulnerable early stages and maintain a good plant stand.”
“Oilseed rape can also be a good economic choice, delivering sound returns as well as providing valuable variety in the rotation. Since switching to strip tillage on our trial farm, our oilseed rape is consistently yielding over 4.5t/ha if not closer to 5t/ha – which is a much healthier sight than struggling to bring in 3!”
“This ability to get the crop drilled into moisture with an abundance of surface residue and have it up and away in no time was the turning point for our oilseed rape. It can be a rewarding crop if given the right conditions and I can honestly say that it has been one of our best crops since we took the plunge to stop over cultivating and underperforming. And don’t our fields of gold agree!”