Working the soil

Published on 16th March 2021

John Dalton, Director

Often land is ploughed in the autumn as it eases compaction at a consistent depth. This then allows natural weathering to aid adequate tilth with minimal passes in the spring. Ploughing leaves a natural dry crumb on top, with retained moisture underneath.

Increasingly, however, land is min tilled, sometimes in autumn, or indeed left as stubble and then cultivated just prior to sowing.

With both methods, thought and experience need to be applied to conserve moisture, which is paramount. Peas are also sensitive to compaction and possible soil slumping, caused by wheelings and over-working.

Seed depth is very important with large seeds such as peas needing adequate and consistent depth of between 1.5 – 2 inches. Too shallow and germination can be impaired and also the pre-emergence herbicide can hold back germination.

Generally P & K demands are low but deficiency of any major element, including lime, is to be avoided. To counter known phosphate lock-up and non-availability, ongoing research is being undertaken by SBP Ltd on a field scale. We will be trialling a special phosphate starter fertiliser to counter the loss of key seed dressings but it will also assist in this area, making phosphate more readily available. This should (it is claimed) substantially improve rooting while producing stiffer canopies, higher chlorophyl levels and better pod fill, leading to improved yields.

Preparing the seed bed requires patience, correct machinery usage and selection, good consistent seed placement, combined with moisture retention.