Hardworking Hectares: How can double-cropping help?

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Berwick-upon-Tweed
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02:41
  • 11 November 2022
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Hardworking Hectares: How can double-cropping help?

One of our customers is seeing great reductions in input costs using a double-cropping tactic to get the most out of their land.

In this blog, Feed & Small Seeds Manager Alasdair Ralston explains the method, why it is effective for the farmer, and provides a thorough breakdown of how it can be an extremely cost-effective practice.


 

With rising input costs across the agricultural sector, any opportunity to extract greater value from farmland must be seriously considered.

Here at McCreath Simpson & Prentice we are committed to working with farmers to help them increase value and yield, decrease costs, and protect soil health and structure.

This farmer, located in the Cheviots, had grown a spring wholecrop for silage to feed his herd of suckler cows over winter and received a good yield following previous years of excellent soil management by MSP agronomists.

Once the wholecrop was out of the ground, the stubbles were given farmyard manure before an MSP forage crop was disced and drilled with a combi-drill on July 30, into very dry conditions, at 5.5kgs/ha.

With the incredibly dry, hot August period, it was a few weeks before establishment was deemed acceptable, then the field was treated with 250kgs/ha of MSP blended fertiliser.

After three months of growth (though it should be noted that growth was severely impacted by weather in the first month), the crop was ready to be grazed, and we returned to the field to calculate cost per kg of dry matter (shown below).

Cultivations/applications:              £96.90p/ha

  • (Disc’s,combi-drill, fertiliser)

Seed/fertiliser:                                 £219.65p/ha

  • (6kgs/ha of MSP seed & 250kgs of MSP Fertliser)

Total:                                                £316.55p/ha

 

Tonnes of Dry Matter:                      7.28t/ha

Cost per t/DM:                                  £43.48t/DM

Cost per KG Dry Matter:                  £0.04/kgDM

As you can see, the cost to the farmer per kg of dry matter of the forage crop is only 4 pence. The 12ha field will graze roughly 70 younger & good condition cows over the winter until calving time in February. This will free up space in the sheds for those cows that require shelter in the winter, and these cows will be fed the original wholecrop silage.

Alongside significantly reducing costs, this double-cropping will improve soil structure, fix nutrients in the ground and, as the suckler cows graze they will be adding nutrients back into the field through their waste, reducing the fertiliser requirements for the next crop that will be sown in the spring.

If you are interested in double-cropping, or are looking for a way to increase your land’s potential, contact Alasdair Ralston on alasdairralston@mspagriculture.co.uk or call 07764 896379.

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