Sugar Beet Growers showed a lot of interest in CONTRA Oil Radish at the BBRO Winter Conference at Peterborough on 10th Feb 2015. With major changes to the economics of Sugar Beet production, growers are being forced to reconsider the role of Sugar Beet in their crop rotation plans. Crops with the capability to protect and improve the yield potential in soil, such as CONTRA Oil Radish, are attracting many large growers to include them in their rotations as part of an overall change in their crop rotation strategy. As well as Oil Radish for Sugar Beet, the options provided by the full range of Catch, Cover and Green Manure Crops from Elsoms and Saaten , especially Black Oat PRATEX, provoked a lot of interest in their ability to improve the long term profitability of the farm wide rotation.
BBRO Winter Conference 2015
One of the highlights of the BBRO Winter Conference 2015 was the session sponsored by Saaten Union and Elsoms Seeds Ltd on "Catch Cropping and Nutrient Management", presented by James Beamish from Salle Farm and Andrew Lovett from the University of East Anglia.
Since 2010 the Salle Estate has been host to monitoring equipment maintained by the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment project, which is part of a national initiative seeking to evaluate the extent to which on-farm mitigation measures can cost-effectively reduce the impacts of water pollution while maintaining food production capacity.
As part of the research programme, cultivation trials are being conducted on nine fields (totalling 143 Ha) to assess the impact of cover crops and reduced tillage techniques on soil properties and nutrient balances.
Oilseed radish was identified as a suitable cover crop to include in a rotation involving sugar beet and was established in seven fields during the autumn of 2013. The radish was subsequently followed by a spring bean crop.
Monitoring of field drains and soil water demonstrated that the cover crop has a substantial effect in reducing nitrogen losses and financially the returns were similar to those from fields using more conventional practices. During the year considerable experience was gained about the practicalities of managing the radish and this has helped to improve the on-going use of cover crops at Salle http://www.sallefarms.co.uk/