Harrow Combing Oats

Richard Smith, Senior Farm Manager at Daylesford Farm discusses harrow combing oats.

  • The oats were drilled late in October which allows the crop to grow ahead of the weeds in the spring.
  • Once the ground is dry enough, a 12m spring tine comb harrow can be used to go through the top inch of soil, breaking it up and pulling out many of the weeds. 
  • The harrow damages the plants, causing them to tiller.
  • This time of year, Richard will harrow comb oats every fortnight until the main stems of the plants start to be damaged.
  • The harrow comb has a seed box attached to it which can be used for crops, green manures and grass seed.
  • The degree of agitation caused by the harrow can be set by altering the angle of the tines. On the first pass, Richard sets the harrow to dig into the soil aggressively; to remove weeds and encourage tillering. As the plants begin to grow he will then reduce the angle of the tine and therefore the agitation.  
  • Research by the Scottish Agricultural College suggests that 25kg of natural nitrogen is released in the top soil after harrow combing; Richard says he always sees an improvement in the crop. 
  • Richard will go on to top dress this field with farm yard manure. 

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