Out In The Fields – with Tom Barry Farms

These pictures are of a crop of Gangway spring barley sown on the 22nd of March 2021.

This farm has light soils which tend to dry out quickly and reduce yield potential. This year we incorporated 3500 gallons of pig slurry into the seed bed. This was done with an umbilical cord system followed by a HEVA 4.5 M disc harrow. This reduced our requirement for artificial bagged Phosphate and potash by 50%. This is a substantial reduction in our carbon footprint but as importantly the yield potential of this crop is huge. The availability of an organic matter to the plants of the spring barley promoted rapid root development and strong plant health. The strong boost which the organic matter provided to the crop was clearly visible this spring as the weather in April and May was cold and wet. As can be seen from the pictures the crop is extremely dense and spotlessly clean from disease.

Strong plant health is providing a useful tool for disease prevention in crops given the limited number of fungicides registered for use today. In 2020 we applied the organic matter again from pig slurry on the standing crop of spring barley when the crop was early tillering. The crop yielded 3.3 tonnes per acre. This year we changed to incorporating the organic matter in the seedbed and the yield potential is far greater than last year. This type of seedbed preparation requires patience as you cannot simply rush out and set lots of grain at the first available opportunity. It also requires a suitable dry weather window for soil cultivation.

I will update on the harvest yield in early August.


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