Rotation proving important in difficult season

While the harvest has a long way to go yet, it is clear that, throughout the mixed yields and varying conditions that cereal crops have endured this season, many of those which are performing over the average are those in good rotations.

Speaking with agronomists across the country, a consistent comment when a high yield is mentioned is that “it’s in a good rotation”; “that crop is after beans”; or “it was planted after oilseed rape”.

Other crops which are performing over the odds have received animal manures and the soil is being looked after.

Cereal crops following break crops are reaching higher yields and, when tested in the drought conditions that were present in the midlands and north-east this summer, cereal crops following break crops seem to have performed well in comparison to continuous cereals.

Benefits of break crops

There are many reasons for this, but among the benefits of break crops are the nutrients left behind and the potential contribution to organic matter build up.

Break crops can improve soil structure with different root systems and also help in the control of different weeds, in particular grass weeds which are harder to control in cereal crops.

As farmers plan for the next season and decide on cropping areas for winter crops they should examine how crops performed in different fields and ask what were the differences?

If a crop did over the average yield, was there a break crop in the field before that crop?

Do you need to add a break crop to your rotation?

Price and payments

Remember that the real benefit to break crops could be in the following crop’s yield, but aside from this there are other financial benefits to break crops.

Protein crops, such as peas and beans, have the added benefit of the protein payment and are in demand from many feed mills which offer contract prices before sowing in many cases.