Date: 06/2023
  • Stand-out oilseed rape on Shropshire farm
  • Suits low-input approach perfectly
  •  High yield potential

DSV Dart's ability to produce strong crops of oilseed rape without high levels of inputs and nitrogen could make it the perfect variety for growers following a more regenerative approach to crop production, says Shropshire producer Michael Kavanagh.

"It's been the stand-out variety for us this year in terms of the way it established and has gone on to produce a really good looking and very even hedge-to-hedge crop without any fungicide, insecticide or PGR applied, he explains.

"It suffered very little flea beetle damage, growing through the very small amount we did see, and without a shadow of doubt is the best-looking crop in the 104ha of oilseed rape we have on the farm this year."

Based at  Church Farm near Bonningdale, Michael is responsible for 680ha of production in total, with 540ha of combinable crops focused on a regenerative approach very much at its heart.

"It's something we have been following for many years. We use a bit of fungicide on our milling wheat, but that's pretty much it across the arable rotation and we're learning all the time how we can develop our management along the lines of more sustainable production.

"We're now growing approaching 180ha of cover crops, for example, with a third of our rotation down to spring cropping in a fairly diverse rotation featuring both feed and milling wheats, milling oats, malting barley, quinoa, spring barley, spring beans and oilseed rape.

"We find we're still able to hit wheat yields of 10t/ha, despite being on sandy loam, and oilseed rape outputs of 5t/ha with this approach, but it does put a lot of emphasis on identifying varieties that suit the system best and can perform to their full potential within it."

When it comes to oilseed rape, features such as strong early vigour, good phoma and light leaf spot resistance and overall resilience come top of the list, he says.

"We want something that will perform well without a lot of agronomic inputs and we're also looking at how we can continue to reduce nitrogen use.

"DSV Dart seemed to fit all our needs so we've drilled 50% of our oilseed rape area with it this year. The crop was sown on 18th August with a strip till drill following spring barley at our home farm and rye on some land we contract farm on.

"On our own land, we had no damage from flea beetles at all but on the contracted land, which was not drilled until ??, the few incidences we experienced were quickly dealt with by an application of a natural potassium silicate product.

"The DSV Dart established consistently well and has looked good ever since. We've applied just 140kg N/ha, down from 200kg N/ha, and 150kg/ha of Sulphur together with some key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and boron and that has been it.

"It's looking the best of all the oilseed rape on the farm and we're confident it's going to deliver the yield we're hoping for."