BASF Agricultural Solutions UK

March Pulse Check

Over the coming months we’ll be checking in with pulse growers up and down the country. We’ll be finding out why they grow peas and beans, how they get the best from them as well as getting a seasonal update.

First up is Richard Hinchliffe from South Yorkshire. On his 560 acre family farm he has 75ha of Tundra – a variety of winter beans that can be grown for human consumption.

Why are you growing winter beans?

“Winter beans have been a feature on this farm for 20 years. They are a good break crop and you can get a nice wheat crop afterwards.

“Being no-till we don’t disturb the root nodules with cultivations and benefit from the slow release of nitrogen. Most years the beans help reduce nutritional costs in following crops, but given the wet winter we’ve had and the likelihood of lower soil mineral nitrogen levels, that’s not the case this year.”

How do you establish your winter beans?

“With a no-till disc drill. They are one of the easier crops to no-till drill. Beans don’t mind it at all. As long as you can get them 3” or so deep, they are quite happy.

“We’ve established nine crops no till and as time goes on, it gets easier. It helps if you can start in a dry year – the first year will always be the hardest and dry conditions just take the pressure off. Open slots are becoming less of an issue, even on our heaviest land but then, if you’re an arable farmer, no-till is the gift that keeps on giving. As the soil improves, everything gets better. The only downside is that it requires a little more management time.”

What are your most challenging weeds, pests and diseases?

“Number one is chocolate spot. If it gets into the crop before the first flowers, it’s like blight, you can’t play catch up. You either prevent it or you’ve lost it. Less so with bean rust.

“Bruchid beetles are funny little devils. I don’t worry about them too much as I’m not aiming for the human consumption market.

“With winter beans I don’t have to worry about pea and bean weevils at all - they have grown past the critical growth stage by the time the pests are active in the spring.”

How do you deal with them?

“Pre-emergence is predominantly for grass weed control and then we’ll follow up post-emergence with some more graminicide focused on bromes and blackgrass – we take a zero-tolerance to grassweeds.

“Then it depends on the season but our beans will definitely get two fungicides. If it’s a mild and damp season, and disease pressure is high, they might get a third. For chocolate spot control, products vary. In the good old days, we would use CTL like everyone else. But now, things have changed. If we think disease pressure is high, we will start off with Signum®.

“Bruchid control is a difficult one. We were following BruchidCast and the IPM protocol but it’s not always been successful from a control perspective. Bruchid beetles are the hardest part of growing beans, especially if you’re aiming for the human consumption market.

“Otherwise, the agronomy for beans is fairly simple.”

How are your crops looking now?

“They look respectable, I’m pleased with them. They went into the ground well and we’ve not had any standing water over the winter so they had a good start. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t hit our farm average of over 7t/ha.

“They’ve just had some potash and sulphur fertiliser and next we start thinking about the first fungicide around the middle to end of April, before the first flowers are visible. When we actually go in with a treatment will depend on the weather.”

You’re part of the bean YEN for the second year, why do you take part and what do you get from it?

“I was a bit sceptical about the bean YEN but the tissue analysis was really interesting last year. We’ve quite a high pH so we know we’re deficient in boron but you could clearly see the boost the trace element gave through the tissue analysis. So, this year we’ve decided to split the boron and apply some in the autumn as well as in the spring, and we’re slightly increasing our rates. Like everyone else, we’re looking for marginal gains. The easy stuff has already been done.

“If you take the tissue analysis just as an example, even if you’re too late to do anything that year, it gives you food for thought the following year. It’ll be interesting to see what results we get this year.

“Across the network I picked up on the impact of fresh potash. It struck a chord and is the reason why, this year, we’ve just applied fresh potash to our crop.”

A big thank you goes to Richard for talking to us about his bean crop. Come back in April to find out how the next grower in the series is getting on with their crop.

Pushing Pulse Yields

Pushing Pulse Yields

We are on a mission to increase the national yields of field beans and combining peas. Together with growers, industry experts and agronomists, we plan to uncover the key aspects of high yielding, profitable pulse crops and to help further unlock some of their untapped yield potential.

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