Continuing our series looking at planters, this interesting offering from Claydon is particularly relevant to many farming situations in Kenya…
Claydon uses a leading tine to open the soil ahead of a separate seeding tine, meaning that light surface compaction – from livestock grazing in the off-season for example – can be removed at seeding without over cultivating and putting the soil at risk of erosion.
Claydons are operating all over the world and are particularly useful in the transition to notill, when soils benefit from some structural help in the early years.
The leading tine
can be used to place fertiliser safely below the seed, and a cutting disc
option is available to help the machine handle straw residues.
The range of
seeding boots available means everything from Canola through to beans can be
accurately planted on a wide or narrow row., and contour following is very good
unlike many European built machines.
The weak links
in most farmers and agronomists experience are consolidation (the machine lacks
an individual press wheel like an Ndume for example) and row width options.
requirement is high, but machines are as well built as a Baldan or a Cross
Slot, and small 3 meter versions are available which greatly helps medium scale
Overall, a very
versatile seeder with solid build quality and excellent for the early stages of
notill. Just buy a good roller to close the seed slot!
Keeping herbicides working is crucial for
sustainable crop production. Lately I have read several articles which have
been slightly misguided about how to manage and reduce the development of
Firstly, understand that what you do to the
weeds on your farm is your problem. Resistant diseases cannot be stopped
blowing across from your neighbours’ fields, but weed populations and their
sensitivity to herbicides is of your own making…
Rotate modes of herbicide action, and do not use more than more per crop (unless it specifically allows you to do so on the label). Crop rotation is essential for this.
Use full application rates and apply them with the right water quality, correct nozzle and good coverage. Sprayer boom stability is everything when it comes to getting herbicides to work.
Hit weeds when small and actively growing. The larger they are, the more likely they are to survive the herbicide and reproduce. This is THE main way in which resistance develops….
Use pre emergence herbicides. As a general rules these are far less susceptible to resistance, partly because the tiny weeds have less chance to metabolise the chemical.
Use mechanical means of control. Plants can still develop resistance to these (for example have you ever tried up-rooting Amaranthus quickly and finding branches still attached to the tap root!) Inter row weeding and weed surfing can help, but ultimately this selects for prostrate and inter-row types*.
Crop competition. Number one method of control. KWS Irina Barley is planted at over 250 kg/ha in some countries to outcompete grass weeds – it is breed to be very stiff and to retain its grain size even at high plant populations. Nutrition is vital also.
Changing planting date is a great and often forgotten way of outwitting weeds which have been selected to germinate with the crop over the years. Remember, optimum planting date is only ‘optimum’ as far as the rain is concerned – if Ryegrass is your limiting factor you might have more to gain by shifting the planting date.
Stale seedbeds – get that flush of weeds out the way with glyphosate.
Ploughing can work but can also cause disasters. A big, big area which needs to be fully understood.
Read the label – some sequences of herbicides can reduce the effectiveness of others – akin to applying low dose that ends of increasing the chances of resistance developing.
*Gallant Soldier and Brome have both been
identified as been much more likely to germinate in close proximity to ammonium
in the soil. So they can stay dormant until someone plants DAP right next to
them (i.e. in the crop row) where they cannot be inter row weeded.
Simple, low cost forage crops for arable farmers
Cover cropping may be all the rage, but how
about growing something to add some organic matter and carbon back into the
soil, hold or fix some fertility, and shield the soil with some residue during
the hot days of January and February whilst still being of value to the farm?
Forage rape – essentially canola, this is a great option that can be grazed after 10 weeks with sheep or cattle. Unfortunately it will not leave a great deal of soil cover afterwards, but it is low cost and competitive against weeds. If nothing else it adds some diversity to cereal or maize rotations. Another drawback is that brassicas do not support mycorrhizal fungi, so although the livestock might enjoy it, forage brassicas are somewhat one-dimensional.
Cereal Rye – great soil cover, fast and competitive and be grazed several times. Imagine planting after barley or wheat and then grazing livestock in the dry period ahead of peas in the main season. The deep roots provide good support if the soils are slightly damp, and mixing with Sunflowers and canola adds some simple diversity.
Ryegrass – if you can get the seed, this is highly palatable and nutritious, and if managed properly will not become a weed. One of our main weapons to overcome herbicide resistant Ryegrass was… Ryegrass! Graze it hard as soon as it gets to the three leaf stage, and by moving stock off the pasture this will benefit them too with a worm break on clean grazing. Just be sure to terminate in good time with glyphosate. Better still, establish with the cereal crop in the main season – as part of an inter-row weeder pass at 5-6 weeks – and the Ryegrass can be grazed as soon as the cereal is harvested.
Legumes – be careful of grazing clovers with the risk of bloat, but why not add Vetch, or even some peas to the above mixtures? Crimson clover is fantastically fast growing, Trefoil very tough, and Fenugreek cheap and reliable.
Growers are always advised to remove stock when soil is wet to avoid structural problems, and to terminate in good time to retain residue on the soil surface and to leave moisture in the profile for March/April planting.
Farming for the future requires a change of approach. Monoculture, soil degradation and climate change and soil degradation are threats to the futureof how we feed the planet. Agventure Ltd set up the Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation to help farmers diversify cropping systems and introduce techniques which have a long-term outlook to improve soil health. The Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation works extensively with Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd (CropNuts).
Till next time,
DavidJones is the Broad Acre Specialist at Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd. (CROPNUTS). David has a keen interest in soils and no till farming systems where he has undertaken work looking into weed levels and changes in soil structure, and has extensive experience in field trials and in the development of precision farming techniques. In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby.
Plant disease & pest management using chemical pesticides raises serious concerns about food safety, environmental quality and pesticide resistance. These concerns have dictated the need for alternative plant disease & pest Management techniques. In particular, plant nutrients could affect the disease tolerance or resistance of plants to pests and diseases. This is evident in the […]
Agriculture in Kenya is on it’s way up but not without serious productivity challenges and limitations. What can we do to overcome these challneges and become a food secure nation? Ruth Vaughan investigates.. The modern world takes food for granted. Historically the struggle to find or produce enough food to eat was the focus for […]
Choosing the right variety is important for any crop, but with a crop like maize where there is just so much choice, where do you start? Last season we carried out four fully replicated maize variety trials in the highland areas; in Timau, Rumuruti, Nakuru and Eldoret to independently compare a range of maize varieties […]
Cropnuts (or Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd) is a private company that offers
laboratory analytics and expert agricultural advice in Africa. We started out as a small
analytical laboratory, offering services for agriculture and food safety...