Winter Field beans may be established using one of many different machinery techniques. I have seen many crops that were historically ploughed in but in more recent years great success using the Claydon Drill.
What do I mean by success? A consistently high harvested yield.
Growing a good crop is ultimately about catching sunlight with inputs structured to do this as efficiently as possible. One established principle is to have the correct green leaf area per m2 to optimise capture and to do this we need an even plant population.
It has been my observation over several years that emergence, survival and hence plant population can be more consistently achieved using this drill type than many others currently available.
Planting dates have moved forwards from “anytime” to Mid-October whilst soil conditions are predictably better.
I don’t think you can under-estimate the importance of getting the seed checked for nematode and seed borne Ascochyta since this also allows you to find out a figure for germination, essential with seed rate calculations. A consequence of better yielding crops at harvest has been an increase in bean seed size further increasing the need for a higher seed rate to achieve the required plant population.
Winter beans may also be sown in the early spring if so they should be treated as a spring bean crop, increasing the plant population to 36-40 plants/m2.
Spring bean planting needs to be completed as early as possible however seasonal conditions should always be considered ahead of calendar date.
Sowing depth is perhaps not as important as it was when we used residual herbicides such as Simazine. Now, it is more a matter of ensuring seed is well covered to hide them from birds.
More recent work published by the Processors And Growers Research Organisation indicates that top yields are obtained from 60-65 plants/m2 but when taking into account seed cost and produce value, the economic target population is recommended at 50-55 plants/m2. However, this does not necessarily ring true if you are using your own home saved seed (which you have had tested – of course!)
You also should take into account the many other factors that will influence final yield when deciding on that target plant population. These would include soil fertility, on farm experience of “vigorous growth” and it consequences. The farm business plan regarding input costs associated with herbicides, fungicide and insecticides just to mention a few others.