An Update from Leitfie
For the 2021 season, Ben has continued to reduce his fungicide and fertiliser use. He has also mixed crop varieties again to aid disease management. This is the July update from Leitfie as of 21st July 2021.
Ben is pleased with his winter oats this year, and the crop has only had a total of 60kgN/ha. This included 50kg/ha applied on the soil and 4 foliar doses at 2.5kg/ha each. When the group visited earlier this year, there was much discussion about fertiliser rates and the ethos behind foliar feeds and micronutrients. Ben is committed to reducing his environmental impact on farm, and reducing his reliance on fertiliser is one way he is achieving this goal.
Bean weed control
Ben has been growing beans for several years now, initially experimenting with seed rates. This year, Ben has struggled with weed management in the beans and has had a large influx of willow herb. In future years Ben is considering a pre-emergence weed spray such as Nirvana when sowing beans, which should control most of the weeds which are an issue at Leitfie. Nevertheless, the beans have plenty of pods which will hopefully lead to a strong yield.
The 4-way wheat mixes at Leitfie have helped Ben to manage his disease pressure by selecting varieties which complement each other. In field, it is interesting to see the variation in maturity between varieties and the differences in height too. Ben has also been reducing his nitrogen applications on his wheat, and this year the total nitrogen applied was 82.5kg/ha. This included two soil doses at 50kg/ha and 25kg/ha, followed by three foliar applications at 2.5kg/ha each.
Low carbon cows
Ben completed a carbon audit in the winter of 2020/21 and found that his cattle have very low emissions compared to similar enterprises. He found out that this is primarily due to his ruthless culling policy which has resulted in a short calving period and high growth rates. When Leitife was compared to the top 25% of producers, there was opportunity for Ben to reduce his fuel use, which is something he has actively changed in the business by downsizing his tractor – a result of his minimum tillage cultivations.