No-Till Farming System
We took the leap of selling all of our tillage equipment in 2014, replacing our seed drill with a Cross Slot drill (New Zealand Ultra Low Disturbance drill) Primewest contractors have designed a frame to hang the New Zealand openers from. The drill is only part of the system, a major part involves a change in rotation and the inclusion of cover crops.
The rotation of crops grown has become more diverse and livestock has been reintroduced onto ground which hasn’t had sheep or cattle on it for probably over 40 years, this is fantastic in encouraging bacterial and fungal populations into the soils, which if healthy contain billions of microbes in just a teaspoon-full. By not disturbing the soil and keeping a living root in the soil for the whole time, we are giving the microbes the best chance to thrive. Much of the energy that these microbes, in the soil, need comes from the roots of the plant. Plant roots “exude” about 1/3 of the sugars it produces via photosynthesis out into the soil in a symbiotic relationship with the soil microbes, which in turn pass other mineral nutrients which the pant requires to grow. When this soil microbiome is thriving in a healthy balance all the nutrition plants will need to grow will be provided naturally through this symbiotic relationship.

The change has involved a lot of learning, through discussions with other farmers doing similar things, on farm experimentation and reading.

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The Primewest Cross Slot drill came here on 17th March 2014 and drilled direct into a thin cover crop of mustard, the soil is very flinty and was incredibly hard in places, but the drill coped well.
On the back of this successful trial we ordered a 5 meter drill to arrive for spring drilling 2015, ours was the 4th Cross Slot drill in the UK. By July 2015 there were 14 drills.


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After drilling in September 2014 we had 57mm (2 1/4”) of rain in a 4 hour over night storm. This storm led to some significant soil erosion in a couple of fields. There was however a very good display of the benefits of No-till over Tillage where next door fields were drilled on the same day, 1 by the Cross slot (picture on right) the other with tillage (picture on left). The hedge in the pictures is the same hedge.
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