Why frost is good for our farmers
Temperatures are dropping below freezing everywhere at the moment and Germany has gone into winter mode. For our farmers moderate frosts are a positive thing, claims Thomas Husemann, Crop Consultant at AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG.
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In what ways can frost be good for farming?
Husemann: On heavy clay soils frost action helps break down the clumps of earth into smaller pieces, improving the structure of the soil. Frost also makes it possible to drive on fields, enabling the farmer to apply fertiliser and crop protection measures if necessary.
Won’t catch crops and winter cereals be killed off?
Husemann: Yes, any non-hardy catch crops and weeds will die, which makes soil preparation easier later on. Winter cereals are far less likely to die back, because, as the name implies, they are frost hardy. There is only a risk to winter cereals in extremely low temperatures when there is no snow cover.
When does it start getting critical or risky?
Husemann: If there are black frosts well into double-digit sub-zero temperatures winter cereals may be killed under some circumstances. Farmers do have ways of making sure their cereals are hardy and so reduce the risk of frost damage.
What exactly can they do?
Husemann: The choice of variety is the most important thing, and the cereal’s hardiness is also strongly influenced by the nutrition it receives. In the autumn plants should be given plenty of potassium, whereas too much nitrogen in the form of nitrate is counter-productive. A foliar feed will give plants a boost and provide them with the micronutrients they need.