Winter Oilseed Rape Crop Establishment Technology

31. 7. 2020
This year has finally brought enough rainfall in many areas, somewhere too much. Sowing of winter oilseed rape begins in a short time and many farmers are considering the right strategy.
Winter Oilseed Rape Crop Establishment Technology

At the moment, it is not possible to estimate with sufficient accuracy what the weather will be like during sowing of oilseed rape in August. In many areas, the soil is already sufficiently supplied with water, so there is nothing what stops either the previous shallow stubble or deeper tillage before sowing or directly during sowing.

There are many ways to achieve this, and it all depends on the weather and the machine performance, so that the crop establishment could be achieved in good time.

In general, if there is a good water supply and soil moisture conditions are optimal, the soil can be treated in all ways and there is practically nothing to be damage.

However, as soon as the soil shows higher or lower moisture, it is necessary to choose a different strategy. At lower humidity, it’s priceless to loosening the soil in advance and too deep until there is a sufficient chance of raining.

It is best to combine deeper loosening directly with sowing in one pass. Conversely, if it is too wet, it is necessary to carry out loosening as soon as the soil conditions allow, but only to such a depth that excessive clumps with a small proportion of fine soil are not formed.

There is also better to loosen even when sowing, but again to a reasonable depth. Loosing during sowing must always ensure aeration of the root zone, the creation of a seedbed and the creation of a sufficient proportion of fine soil for good contact of the seed with the soil moisture. Caution, loosening too moist soil can cause the exact opposite!

Most farmers have many years of experience with sowing oilseed rape and have tried and tested various ways how to make the best, established, balanced and quality oilseed rape. We try to listen to these farmers and we develop and manufacture our technology with regard to their recommendations and wishes.

Let’s have a look at the individual technologies of winter oilseed rape crop establishment, in the order by soil water conservation:

Considering the uncertain precipitation and quite dry years, there has been a substantial trend in establishing oilseed rape crop using a single operation including strip-till cultivation, either directly in a stubble field, or in shallow stubble ploughing. This technology is provided by the modular Falcon PRO seed drill in configuration with the front chisel strip section and drill coulters for rows with a spacing of 25 cm. The seed drill is equipped with cultivating chisels that loosen soil in the axes of the rows up to a depth of 20 cm. The chisels that are only 20 mm wide loosen soil without risk of clod formation and with a very low tractive resistance. This system helps create balanced crop and a good yield foundation, especially in dry areas. Soil water is maximally used in favour of oilseed rape and the entire process of crop establishment is highly productive. Soil loosening during seeding can be combined with fertiliser placement, directly in the roots of the future crop. Many farms standardly seed in shallow stubble ploughing, which is often done right behind the harvester. The Softer disc cultivators perfectly undercut and mix crop residue and create fine aerated soil that improves the subsequent contact of seeds with soil after strip seeding in heavy soils.

Technology of direct seeding into a stubble field with chisel cultivation up to a depth of 20 cm. The row spacing is 25 cm. The technology provides excellent crops, even in extremely dry years.

It is recommended to supplement the technology of direct seeding into a stubble field with previous quality shallow stubble ploughing at a depth of 5 – 8 cm, especially in heavier soils, which creates fine soil on the surface and better contact of seeds with soil after seeding.

Planting in a ploughed stubble field Direct planting in a stubble field

Comparison of crops planted by Falcon Pro Strip with chisel cultivation in a lighter soil directly into a stubble field and in shallow stubble ploughing in an extremely dry field in 2018. The same field, the same date of seeding, the same variety. When seeding after stubble ploughing, the soil was completely dry up to a depth of about 10 cm; when seeding directly into a stubble field, the chisels brought out slightly moist soil to the surface. The difference in moisture was manifested later. The technology with ploughing or deeper loosening showed significantly worse results in the field.

Heavier soils with sufficient moisture can be cultivated using Digger, a deep cultivator that significantly improves water absorption in compacted soil, loosens the subsoil layer, and aerates soil. In a single pass, Digger processes soil, perfectly levels it thanks to the levelling discs, and the rear double spiked roller prepares it for subsequent seeding in the required minimisation seedbed preparation quality. Digger can be supplemented with a set for applying granulated fertilisers into the root zone of the soil profile, at two various depths.

Technology of oilseed rape crop establishment with deep loosening in a depth of about 35 – 40 cm and fertiliser application at several levels. Ideal for very heavy or heavily compacted soils. The deep cultivator perfectly aerates soil and provides excellent moisture absorption.

Today, shallow stubble ploughing followed with medium-deep loosening in a depth of about 25 cm using chisel cultivators with intense soil and crop residue mixing is quite a standard technology for establishing oilseed rape crop. Stubble ploughing can be omitted in medium-heavy and lighter soils in case of lack of time. However, it is highly desirable in heavy soils and it improves the share of finely loosened soil important for quality contact of seeds with soil after planting. The optimal solution is the two-row DUOLENT cultivator, or the three-row TRIOLENT cultivator, which provide excellent quality of work with favourable tractive resistance. For the more demanding farmers, there is also the four-row TERRIX cultivator with very intense, practically all-area loosening that, however, comes with a higher tractive resistance in relation to the working width. All cultivators can work up to a depth of 35 cm. The side winglets for all-area cultivation are recommended for a depth of up to 20 cm. It is better to work without the winglets in deeper layers and to only use chisels, as it significantly reduces the tractive resistance of the machine without any effect on the quality of work. Seeding should be done as soon as possible after loosening. The standard application of fertilisers prior to processing can be supplemented with direct fertiliser application below the roots while seeding.

The most frequently technology used for oilseed rape crop establishment uses medium-deep loosening in a depth of about 25 cm, using wide two-row, three-row or four-row cultivators. Falcon Pro Fert, seed drills that enable fertiliser application into soil storage can also be used for seeding.

The technology with ploughing is a standard method, however, it has been declining. In this technology, quality stubble ploughing is a must and it has to be deeper to ensure that crop residues are well mixed in the soil. In addition to faster decomposition of the organic matter and suppression of adverse effects on the access of the crop to soil water, quality stubble ploughing also improves the quality of crumbling during tillage. The tilled soil then needs to be compacted using the Kompaktomat combinator. The front and rear rollers of the machine compact soil efficiently, restore soil capillarity and create optimal seedbed. The cultivating sections loosen the top soil surface and create a light “feather quilt” that prevents evaporation and provides optimal conditions for emergence. The wide Falcon SW seed drill is ideal for seeding in such prepared soil. The interval between the tillage, seedbed preparation and seeding should be as short as possible, ideally 1 to 2 hours.

Standard oilseed rape crop establishment with tillage. Quality stubble ploughing in a depth of 8 – 12 cm with excellent crop residue mixing is important. In order to conserve moisture and to provide good emergence, the tillage, seedbed preparation and seeding should be done within 1 to 2 hours. Therefore, it is important to use efficient wide-coverage technology.

We have broad knowledge and experience in the field of technologies for soil cultivation, fertiliser application and seeding. Do not hesitate to contact us in case of any questions or suggestions.

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