“Twice as much Planet as planned” – we catch up with Lincolnshire grower Gavin Bowser

Publish on January 11, 2024
Reading time : < 1 min
We know how our varieties perform in trials but what’s even more important is how they perform on farm, and that’s where our Growers Club comes in. We recently caught up with Gavin Bowser, who farms near the Lincolnshire coast.

Croftmarsh Limited, Croft Marsh, Skegness, Lincolnshire

  • Area farmed: 1000 hectares
  • Soil types: Silty clay loam
  • Key crops: Winter wheat, oilseed rape, spring barley, spring beans. Some permanent grassland.
  • Typical cultivations: Direct drilling, low-disturbance cultivations as needed.
  • RAGT varieties: RGT Planet
  • Key markets: Feed, malting

Like many growers across the country, Gavin has some poor winter crops to contend with this season and has had to rewrite his spring drilling plans.

Wet weather began at the end of October and continued almost without a break for weeks. “We have some very uninteresting looking crops – it’s not good,” says Gavin. “We will have to replant some wheat that’s not going to make it and I have bought-in seed still in the shed.

“Unless it comes exceptionally dry in January, that’s unlikely to change. We’re on heavy coastal silt land and we’ve been through once with a Flatlift or light cultivation. It’s not like ploughing – it is going to lay wet and cold for a long while. I’m prepared to wait to the end of February, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Plan B is to double the area of spring barley to 200ha and increase the area of spring beans, though this crop is limited by the need to avoid a late harvest.

“We have grown spring wheat but it’s not the best yielding crop for us and it can suffer from ergot,” says Gavin. “And it’s not as good at smothering blackgrass, which is one of the reasons we like spring barley. In some fields we will grow spring barley two or three years running.”

All his spring barley area will be RGT Planet. “It’s done very well for us over the past few years and its agronomic scores are holding up well.”

About 40t of seed was cleaned before Christmas. “We’ve had the grain tested for germination and it looks pretty good, but we’ll put on a fairly high seed rate to be safe.”

Seedbed rather than date will dictate when the spring drilling programme starts. “Spring crops need to hit the ground running,” says Gavin. “We drilled some spring beans too early last year and they rotted. We look for a nice, friable seedbed – spring crops don’t like being paddled in.

“A glyphosate will go on in January/early February to get a good kill, but it might be the end of March before we start drilling. We’ll direct-drill as much as we can to limit soil movement and minimise blackgrass germination, although if it looks like drying up, we might press an older drill into service. Seedbeds can soon become knobbly when the soil surface gets really dry.”

Gavin is tempted to augment his blackgrass control with legume mixes, an option under stewardship and SFI. “We have tried this under stewardship, drilling the mix immediately after harvest so you can get it well established, and run it through to the following autumn.

“I think we’ll see a lot of it this in next year or two, especially on marginal land. I’m sure you could more than cover the cost and you can use it in bad blackgrass fields and mow it to stop it heading. And there could be considerable longer-term benefits for the rotation, which could be very useful.”


Read more about RGT Planet : https://ragt.uk/rgt-planet-a-rock-solid-choice-for-spring-barley-growers/

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