Many fields in arable rotations in Northern Ireland could benefit from a more diverse mix of cropping. Oilseed rape is a useful break crop, and with current favourable gross margins it can also provide many other benefits across the rotation. These include helping to reduce the threat of soil borne disease such as take-all, the opportunity to control some problematic grass and broadleaved weeds and with a long tap root it can help open-up the soil improving soil structure and porosity. The positive effects of using oilseed rape as a break crop will result in improved yields in the following cereal crop.
Oilseed rape is usually drilled from mid-August through to the start of September, seed is small and should be drilled 1.5-2.0 cm deep into a fine moist seed bed. It is important to achieve good seed to soil contact in a firm seed bed which will facilitate germination and reduce slug movement throughout the soil profile. Seeds germinate quickly and the vigorous young plants will make the most of late summer warmth, day length and residual soil nitrogen to produce good crop covers into the autumn. Seed is usually drilled to achieve a final plant population of between 30-45 plants m/sq.
Improvements in oilseed rape breeding have greatly improved genetics with modern hybrid varieties offering many built in genetic benefits such as greater resistance to disease, virus, lodging and pod shatter. Fane Valley offers a range of high yielding oilseed rape varieties including PT303, DK Expectation, DK Excited and Ambassador, which will all perform well in the Northern Ireland climate.
For more information on how oilseed rape could benefit your crop rotation, variety selection and detailed agronomy advice please contact your local Fane Valley Agronomist or call the Agronomy and Forage office on 028 9261 0485.