Today went to visit Ron Stobart and Simon Kightley of NIAB TAG to speak to them about their Clover bi-cropping trials http://www.niab.com/uploads/files/NIAB_NFS_Fertility_Building_4pp_A5_FINAL.pdf
Also I wanted to speak to them about their OSR companion cropping work.
Ron has written an outline of the results of the New Farming Systems here:
The highlights for me from speaking to Ron are (reference to bi-cropping):
- works well upto 50% of normal dose of Nitrogen fertiliser
- yield improvement of 1t/ha in the zero N plots compared with control
- Average yield improvement of 0.2t/ha in the full rate N over the 10 years of the trial
- there has been an improvement in soil structure and reduced bulk density
- water infiltration rates have tripled
- clover recovers best in the zero N plots
Then in the afternoon Simon took us outside to see their companion cropping trials in OSR:
The first plot above was their brassica mix which included Chinese cabbage, rocket, pak choi and linseed. The idea being that the other species dilute the effect of flea beetle shot holing and it seemed to be working well.
The second plot was the OSR by itself
There was a problem with the germination of the charger and it as pretty hard hit by pests as well
The third plot was the legumix:
This plot included Common vetch, Crimson clover, Berseem clover and Persian clover and again was pretty thin but there were more OSR plants in the companion crop than in the control.
The last plot was with Fenugrek:
The idea of the Fenugrek is that the pests are repealed by the smell of the plant. Not sure whether it worked because it seemed that pigeons seemed to love the smell and have eaten it! The trial also had different replicates with different seed rates of OSR.
I especially found the idea of the brassica mix interesting. You could get your salad for your sandwich while walking your crops! Thank you to Ron and Simon for giving up their time today.