- Sown as the last catch crop of the summer ahead of autumn cereals, this mix includes species that are relatively fast to establish.
- Leguminous species which require a longer period of time to fulfil their potential are not included as standard, however vetches could be added if establishment is planned at the beginning of the sowing window.
- Phacelia could be substituted for white mustard where a lower cost option is required but care should be taken to consider flea beetle risk as well as impact on other brassicas grown within the rotation.
- Providing a fibrous combination of roots in the mix is ideal for soil conditioning in the top 5-10cm and the inclusion of buckwheat also helps to make phosphate more available for the subsequent cereal crop.
- Once established the cover can provide a useful tool to aid soil moisture management as autumn approaches.
- A wide sowing window allows planting from late July through to early September, but best results will be from those covers sown earlier. Opportunities for placement could be following early harvested crops such as winter barley or oilseed rape as well as introducing some welcome life back into soils that have lain bare through summer fallow.
- Aim for a seed depth of around 5-10mm taking particular care to ensure seed is fully covered – note that phacelia will not germinate if exposed to sunlight.
- Adequate soil moisture is the key to success in this summer drilling window so every effort should be made to drill directly behind the combine or around a period of expected rainfall.
- As with other small seeds a fine tilth in the seeding zone followed by firm consolidation is essential.
- The termination of these covers should be managed according to the planned drilling technique for the subsequent cereal crop.
- Where direct drill machinery that can cope with standing biomass is to be used, mixes such as these can be terminated within a few days of drilling to provide a certain amount of evapotranspiration until the main crop is ready to sow.
- Where more traditional ‘min-till’ cultivation methods are to be employed ensure timely termination takes place to minimise difficulties of biomass with cultivation and drilling equipment.
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