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Arable demonstration day a success

Date Published: 10/06/2014

News in today from Pearce Seeds about its demonstration day in Dorset. Here’s the report:


A dedicated group of Organic Farmers have travelled far and wide to attend the Pearce Seeds Organic demonstration site at Child Okeford in Dorset on 2 June 2014, to see and debate the latest trends in Organic farming. Visitors from mainland Europe, Wales as well as local Dorset and Wiltshire farmers had a tour of the site.

With heavy rain through the late autumn sowing window in November and December last year, the demonstration day was almost abandoned before it began. The original site at Pearce Seeds Todber farm was far too wet and with time pressing on a new site was found at Gold Hill, although by this time the drilling was delayed. One of the key debates of this years demonstration was spring sown versus winter sowing of organic crops, and this was highlighted through the clearly visible stress of the late sown winter crops on the site.

“There is a move toward Spring sown Organic crops, they tend to compete better, have less disease pressure and don’t harbour a large weed burden” said Pearce Seed’s Cas Sandy, words that were echoed by Policy Director of the Soil Association Lord Melchett, who addressed the attendees through lunch, acknowledging that organic farming turned the corner when it moved the emphasis from winter cropping to spring.

“In our trial work we are beginning to see the advantages of the Alternative wheats. The Modern Wheats have a dwarfing gene and are selected for slow speed of development to avoid lodging where artificial fertiliser is applied and crops are drilled early. These traits aren’t required for organic production and the Spring type/Alternative Wheats drilled from November onward have proven their yield potential in our conventional trials. Their early vigour should suit the organic grower” Continued Ms Sandy.

Through lunch the latest technology in weed control was demonstrated. One of the two new Combcut Weedcutters currently in the UK were in operation. The Combcut Weedcutters uses a completely new method that exploits physical differences between crop and weed, such as stem thickness and branching pattern. As the machinery moves through the crop the coarser weeds are cut by the immobile blades, while the thinner crop plants pass through undamaged.

Included in the attendees was contingent of farmers from Estonia who were on a study tour of the UK hosted by Andrew Trump from Organic Arable.