Growing soya for the first time

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Mark Bowsher-Gibbs, farm and estate manager at G.H Dean in Kent will be growing soya for the first time this harvest.

He hosts the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Monitor Farm in Sittingbourne, and presented his trial to the Monitor Farm group at its last meeting.

This year Mark will grow 18ha of the Silverka soya bean variety, which has been innoculated with a rhizobium to promote nodulation and dressed with thiram.

Mark said: “We’re trying soya this year as an alternative to peas for a legume break crop. Around 20% of our normal pea area will be soya.

“Soya needs to be harvested relatively late in the season, but I’m hoping that could be less of a problem for us as we have a warmer micro-climate and lighter soils.”

Previously the land was in a second wheat, which was then sown to feed oats last September as an over-winter catch crop. It was grazed by sheep throughout December and January, and sprayed off with glyphosate in February.

The new soya crop will be established with a Sumo drill in the first week of May, after a disc has been used to create a tilth when then soils have warmed up during April. He will then level off and firm up the seedbed with the Tislo Rake’n’Roll.

Mark said: “We are aware that seeding depth is critical in achieving a uniform establishment.”

Pigeon control during the first fortnight of establishment is crucial for the crop.

“I’ll be using all means available to keep the pigeons off,” Mark said.

The soya crop will be combined in September hopefully and followed with a first wheat. Mark plans to harvest it with the farm’s 770 Claas combine.

Mark’s crop is all grown on contract with Soya UK and will be stored to April 2018 then sold as seed for European supply.

Paul Hill, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager for the South East, said: “We had a good meeting discussing Mark’s decision to grow soya. We’re in an area of the country that is in theory suitable for growing soya. The whole Monitor Farm group will be able to learn from Mark’s experiences this year.”

The Monitor Farm heard Mark expects a gross margin of £662/ha if he achieves his target yield of 2.5t/ha.

Key agronomy points (from Soya UK)

– Get a good seedbed, avoid compaction, conserve moisture

– Sow at 2.5 – 3.8cm  into a warm bed from 21 April at the very earliest

– Maximum sowing depth is 4.45cm

– Apply pre-emergence herbicide

– Keep pigeons away for 2-3 weeks during establishment

– Do post-emergence weed control

– Tank-mix a fungicide with the post-em weed control if the field has a history of sclerotinia

The next meeting at the Sittingbourne Monitor Farm is on 22 June 2017. Farmers or others interested in attending should contact Paul Hill on or 07964 243699.

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