Event Date
Trial plan

At Woodend Farm, we are conducting an innovative trial focused on over-sowing white clover into spring and winter beans and spring oats using the Skippy Scout drone. The objective is to establish an understorey of white clover that will enhance nitrogen sequestration, yield, and quality in subsequent winter wheat crops.



Detailed Steps of the Trial:

  1. Sowing Details:
    • Sowing Date: Friday, 17th May
    • Crops Involved:
      • Spring Beans: Victus 4.5ha
      • Spring Oats: Conway 1.0ha
      • Winter Beans: Vespa 5.8ha
    • Clover Seed Blend: Sown at 4.7kg/ha, consisting of four varieties:
      • 50% Aberlasting
      • 20% Aberace
      • 15% Aberpearl
      • 15% Rivendel
  2. Sow Using Skippy Scout Drone:
      • The drone broadcasts the clover seed into the standing crop, ensuring even distribution and efficient sowing.
  3. Monitoring and Assessment:
    • Nitrogen Sequestration: Testing tissue and soil samples to measure nitrogen levels before and after the establishment of the clover understorey.
    • Yield and Quality: Assessing the yield and quality of the subsequent winter wheat crops to determine the benefits of the clover understorey.
  4. Post-Harvest Management:
    • Direct Drilling: After harvesting the beans and oats, winter wheat will be direct drilled into the established clover understorey, promoting soil health and reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.

Outcomes and Next Steps:

The trial aims to demonstrate the benefits of integrating white clover into crop rotations, enhancing soil fertility and crop performance. We will continuously monitor the progress and adapt our practices based on data and research findings. This approach aligns with our commitment to sustainable agriculture, aiming to reduce chemical inputs while boosting crop yields and quality.

By fostering a clover understorey, we hope to achieve:

  • Improved nitrogen sequestration
  • Enhanced yields and quality in winter wheat
  • Greater biodiversity and soil health

This trial serves as a practical example of how innovative agricultural practices can lead to both ecological and economic benefits.

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Pulses are leguminous crops harvested for dry protein-rich seed, with peas (pisum sativum) and beans (vicia faba) being the major crops in the UK.

Oats (Avena sativa) is a cereal grown for human and animal consumption. In the UK, both winter and spring varieties are available. In 2021, ~210,000 ha of oats were grown in GB.

Intercropping is a method of planting two or more crops in close proximity to each other, either in alternate rows or in the same row. The goal of intercropping is to maximize the use of available space and resources, such as sunlight, water, and nutrients. It can also help to improve soil health and increase crop diversity, which can provide a range of benefits including increased resistance to pests and diseases, and a longer harvest season.

Field beans (vicia faba) are a widely grown break crop across the UK on around 170,000 ha. 

Clover is commonly used as a cover crop, forage crop, and soil improvement tool. 

Farmers are taking part in and being paid for on-farm trials as part of the NCS project.