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Cabbage Stem Flea beetle - Problem Solved

According to a newsletter I saw the other day a reputable organisation is sanctioning “Grazing oilseed rape” as an alternative for growth regulation. It was also being proposed as a viable means of reducing Cabbage Stem Flea beetle larvae numbers.

That reminded me that the popular press ran a news article during spring 2020. It was reported that defoliation by either mowing or grazing was being trialled at eight farms across the UK in an Innovative Farmers laboratory experiment.

One farmer reported the following after conducting sheep-grazing trials on his oilseed rape crop in January. Sheep were grazed on 1st January for nine days in a 1.4 ha charlock-prone trial plot, situated within the main rapeseed crop.

Despite the trial plot yielding 1t/ha less than the main field – which apparently yielded 5t/ha – no fungicide applications or plant growth regulators were applied to the grazed area.

He also went on to say that there was however, the need for extra nitrogen and later harvest dates could be problematic, while pollen beetle and pigeons posed threats.

So financially: Lost sales

Yield 1.0 t/ha. Selling price £325.00/t

Additional Nitrogen 50kg/ha £30.00/ha

Additional Pollen beetle spray £10.00/ha

Total Cost £365.00/ha

Money Saved

Total Costs / ha

Fungicide £50.00

Growth regulator bill £25.00

Total £75.00

Profit forgone 365 – 75 = £290.00 /ha So..Is sheep grazing a financially viable option for your Oil seed rape crop this winter?


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