Field soil sampling Take soil samples now to check end-of-season nutrient levels.
The results are only as good as the sample taken, so walk each field in a "W" pattern. Start away from gateways, avoid old lime or manure heaps and patches of perennial weeds. Sampling now can help towards accurate planning of your 2012 fertiliser programme. Only applying the nutrients needed by the crop helps comply with Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and Catchment Sensitive Farming legislation.
Heat treatment Build a stock plant hot-water treatment unit to treat plant material during the winter to help to control eelworm and Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Phytophthora and rust diseases. Re-use pots and trays after treating them in a similar way by building a large hot-water bath - Horticultural Development Company (HDC) levy-payers can go through HDC factsheet 20/08 for more details.
Choisya Root and stem rotting is an issue during the autumn and winter months. Plants are prone to Pythium, Phytophthora and sometimes Fusarium, so try to keep them on the drier side this winter. Drench affected plants within their irrigation regime with Aliette 80WG, Prestop, Previcur Energy (EoA required), Standon Fullstop, Serenade ASO (EoA 2009-0246) or Subdue.
Voluntary Initiative Get involved with the Voluntary Initiative - enrol your technical team with the National Register of Spray Operators (NRoSO) and get your spraying best practice back up to speed. Check sprayer equipment and replace worn and blocked nozzles, leaky hoses and check pressure-gauge calibration. Make sure that any jugs, beakers and syringes are clean and measuring scales are calibrated. Service equipment and register it with the National Sprayer Testing Scheme - companies that carry out testing can be found at www.nsts.org.uk.
Herbaceous clean-up For late-season herbaceous perennials that die down and shoot again in the spring, use the dormant months to clean up weed growth by spraying them with a tank mix of Harvest and Flexidor 125.
Other dormant-season products include Devrinol, Dual Gold, Venzar Flowable or Springbok. HDC levy-payers should check the Weed Control Handbook and the report HNS 166 for fieldand container-grown species tolerance.
JOHN ADLAM, Managing director, Dove Associates