It looks like it ‘might’ finally be drying up–or at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel! But before you race out with your drill, SWFC’s Anthony Ellis recommends you first grab your spade
For many growers, the winter has left cereals and grass reseeds either non-existent or very patchy. With the improving conditions, most will be considering their options for filling in the gaps to get ground cover and maintain production.
But before you go racing out with the drill, take some time to race out with the spade! All that rain over the winter will have had an impact on soil structure, particularly if it’s been left bare. It may well have caused surface compaction (1mm of rain is equal to 10 tonnes of water falling on a hectare or your soil!) and it may have washed smaller particles down into the soil profile, clogging up all those vital pores and air spaces where living roots may have been absent.
The solution might be as simple as a light harrow to break surface capping or a pass with an aerator to open up and restore air spaces.
Dig a few holes and take a good look at the soil profile. Try to identify any layers or compacted areas that might limit water infiltration and root penetration. Some soils may require remediation before new seeds can be sown. This might be as simple as a light harrow to break surface capping or a pass with an aerator to open up and restore air spaces.
Also, the rain will have had an effect on many soil nutrients. It’s worth getting some soil tests done before putting seeds back, just to check the nutrient status and pH of the soils. We can be pretty sure that highly mobile anions like nitrogen and sulphur will be very low, so think about getting some sulphur included where dung/slurry isn’t going to be applied when conditions improve.