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June 2020 Update from Arable Ventures

An Update from Arable Ventures

A drier season for James, combined with insect damage and patchy emergence are making this year challenging. However, there are still healthy-looking crops and plenty of lessons to be learned. Below are some observations from 3rd June 2020.

Margin Establishment

James has decided to establish 4m wide margins around most of his fields. He hopes that this additional biodiversity will bring in beneficial insects and also count towards his EFA requirements. James has opted to sow a diverse mix of traditional grasses, herbs and legumes over more common grass mixes to increase plants for pollination.

Oats and Clover

Although only a small trial measuring 6m by 4m, James has been trying companion cropping with oats and clover. James seeded spring oats in the autumn and decided to include a small area of clover. On first observations, it appears that the clover is competing with the oats as the oats are shorter and less developed than other areas in this field.  Some discolouration on the clover leaves is visible - this is thought to be herbicide damage

 

Grazed Oilseed Rape

James has been grazing winter cereals for two years now, however, he decided to graze his oilseed rape.  Sheep were introduced to the crop over the 2019/2020 winter, and the fence line is still visible in the crop.  In the photo on the right, you can see that the area to the left of the photo was grazed with sheep, the area to the right was not. The non-grazed area has fewer flowers left, suggesting it is more developed.  Additionally, the grazed area is significantly shorter than the non- grazed area.

 

New Crops

James is also growing Linseed, with a market secured into the French feed trade. Linseed is also known as flax or common flax and can be a dual-purpose crop for seed and the fibre.  In many countries, linseed is grown to produce linen or linseed oil. However, in France, it is used for animal feed.