BASF Agricultural Solutions UK

September 2021 Pulse Check

Adam Williamson is our interviewee for this latest Pulse Check. He manages over 1,600ha in arable production at Thelveton Farms in South Norfolk.

Can you tell us a little about Thelveton Farms?

Thelveton Farms forms part of a large rural estate. It’s a very diverse business which includes the arable farm, a large beef cattle enterprise and significant environmental schemes. The soil type is predominantly heavy and is classified as mainly Beccles Series. The cropping comprises wheat, barley, rye, oats, oilseed rape, forage maize, spring beans and sugar beet. About 120ha of lighter land is let on annual cropping licences for vegetables and herbs.

Why do you grow beans?

Predominantly as a good entry into first wheat. The farm experienced significant OSR losses a couple of years ago, as a result this area was reduced by over 50%. Winter and spring beans have historically been grown on the farm, however, upon joining Thelveton in March 2021, the only guaranteed entry into winter wheat was 43ha of OSR. Therefore, it was quite an easy decision to establish a large area of spring beans and we planted 185ha of home saved seed, Lynx. My preference is spring beans over winter due to the conditions that heavy land can present at the time of drilling in mid-October. The spring bean option enables us to plant on fields where we have a known grass weed pressure as the fields will be sprayed early spring with glyphosate prior to drilling.

How do you establish your bean crop?

We look to establish a cover crop of oil radish and oats with a bio drill on the Vaderstad Topdown in the autumn. These will be sprayed with glyphosate as early as we can in the new year. A Horsch Sprinter drill with 1” Dutch Openers enables us to either direct drill in to the cover crop, or if conditions dictate that the land needs to be moved prior to drilling, we will pull through with the Vaderstad NZA spring tine to prepare the seedbed.

Whichever approach we use, it’s really important to ensure the bean seed is placed in to moisture and I believe the 1” Dutch Openers on the drill are good at achieving this. This year the beans were drilled in the last week of March in to good seed beds that had all been pulled through with the NZA as the land had slumped from the very wet winter.

What weeds do you have and how do you control them?

Our soil type unfortunately means that we do have grass weed pressures and this is managed predominantly through rotation and spring break crops. We grew 145ha of sugar beet, 60ha of forage maize for the estate’s beef cattle herd and 185ha of spring beans last year. This year’s planned spring bean area will be similar even though we have increased our oilseed rape area.

By spraying off an over wintered cover crop we hope there’s been a good flush of grass weeds. After drilling we sprayed a pre-emergence herbicide of Nirvana® and Clomate® (clomazone). A graminicide and Basagran® were sprayed in mid-May and end of May respectively. The yield potential was evident by then, and we are investing in a cleaner first wheat entry. All 185ha were then sprayed with glyphosate at the end of August, as it was clear that harvesting would be later than normal and that the turnaround for cultivations and drilling would be shorter.

Are you troubled by any pests or diseases?

We sprayed for bean weevil at the end of April, as well as for bruchid beetle at mid flowering, which was towards the end of June. With the feed bean market at the levels, it was and is, we decided not to aim for the human consumption market.

Which variety of beans do you grow?

We grow Lynx and its home-saved seed, which is tested for germination, nematodes and ascochyta. We have averaged in excess of 4t/ha over the 185ha and with these results I’m not inclined to dramatically change our approach.

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Basagran® contains bentazone. Nirvana® contains pendimethalin and imazamox. Basagran® and Nirvana® are registered Trademarks of BASF. All other brand names used on this publication are Trademarks of other manufacturers in which proprietary rights may exist. © BASF 2021. All rights reserved.