14 November 2018

Sowing days: direct, minimum tillage or traditional. What do you prefer?

Every time the month of November arrives we start with the tasks of sowing. Undoubtedly, for us this is the most beautiful time of agriculture and especially if there are good soil conditions. This year, thanks to the autumn rains (it has rained about 90mm since early September), we are carrying out our sowing tasks in ideal conditions. The procedure is always the same: prepare the soil, spread a good fertilizer dose (for example, about 200kg/ha of 8-24-8) and sow the winter cereal (with a seed dose of 220 kg/ha). This is not as strict as it seems. Farmer knows in which fields is needed more or less fertilized, the dose and variety of seed chosen, etc. The ideal thing would be to do it using tools that Agriculture 4.0 offers us (yield maps, "intelligent" machinery,...), but unfortunately all that is still to come.

A few days ago we visited our friends Francisco and Fernando (from La Roda - Albacete) and they told us that they started to do direct sowing. Their yields are quite low (around 2,000 kg/ha) and with the selling price of the cereal (about 170 €/t of barley) whose inputs are: fertilizers, phytosanitary treatments, diesel, etc. Therefore, they had to control their expenses in order to have a profitable production. For this reason, and after seeing some fields of direct sowing of their neighbours, they have decided to begin with this technique of sowing. Our question is whether the savings are really so considerable as they have had to buy a direct seed drill, which is usually much more expensive than traditional seed drills, and they will have to do glyphosate treatments instead of using the cultivator or a fast disc harrow which are undoubtedly very low diesel consumption.

As you can see in our photos, we continue doing a traditional agriculture because we still have some fairly acceptable yields (an average of 3,000 kg/ha) and we actually carry out a minimum tillage as we do not work with plough or similar implements that require a large consumption of diesel. In our area the main implement is the cultivator that is practically the only implement used.

Of course, we don't know how to solve this dilemma. What do you think about that?

Versión en español.

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