Know How / Other crops

There are many minor and niche break crops, such as oats and linseed, which can bring many benefits to a crop rotation. This page aims to help you grow a more profitable break crop.

This is your starting point for identifying which crops to grow, how to grow them and address challenges such as weed and disease control.

Key areas of focus:

  • Choosing the right crop and finding contracts
  • Getting establishment right
  • Meeting market specifications
  • Crop agronomy, such as disease and weed control

Case studies

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Grower reveals yield and margin data of intercropping trial

A mix of peas and mustard generated the highest gross margin in the first year of an extensive intercropping trial carried out by Oxfordshire farmer Ben Adams, where different crop…


Wildflower seed diversification gives arable tenants security

Diversifying a traditional arable rotation with a wildflower seed business has helped secure a viable future for one tenant farming family, who faced losing their farm to building developments. In…


Borage and herbage seed helps Essex farm fight blackgrass

Borage and herbage seed break crops have helped one heavy land Essex arable farm get on top of blackgrass, with double spring-sown breaks and low soil disturbance seen as the…


How a Lincolnshire farmer grows a quality crop of herbage

Reseeding grass leys is an important job for many farmers, but the behind-the-scenes work that goes into growing a quality crop of herbage is often overlooked. For Lincolnshire farmer Andrew…


Downsizing and enterprise stacking makes Kent farm resilient

If ideas and enterprise stacking rather than scale and focus make a farming business resilient, then Doug Wanstall is onto a winner. A business that at its largest was contract-farming…


Video: UK agroforestry system integrates fruit and arable

First-generation tenant farmer Stephen Briggs planted the UK’s largest agroforestry system, integrating fruit trees and arable cropping to boost land productivity. More than a decade after the 4,500 apple trees…

Practical advice

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Round-up of the niche crop options for UK growers

Introducing alternative break crops to an arable rotation can help growers improve soil health, spread market risk and further financial gain. As pesticide actives are lost and resistance fears build,…


Hybrid rye: The benefits of growing it and how to do it well

Hybrid rye offers several benefits to arable rotations, not least because of the ability of its extensive root system to extract soil nutrients, potentially cutting nitrogen fertiliser requirements by 40%…


Winter oats facing high disease could benefit from T0 spray

Winter oat growers could benefit from an earlier spring fungicide than usual as crops face a higher disease pressure, following a relatively mild winter. Mildew, crown rust and septoria have…


5 cultivation and establishment methods compared

Establishment systems cover varying degrees of soil movement, from relatively little disturbance associated with direct-drilling and min-till through to deep cultivations and complete inversion with the likes of ploughing. Each…


How to establish, manage and rejuvenate hedgerows

Healthy hedges are a lifeline for wildlife, providing food and habitat, including for many of the birds within the Farmland Bird Index as well as for priority mammal species in…


How to tackle the spring milling oat challenge

The quest for spring oats to be a consistent, profitable crop that meets millers’ requirements continues after another difficult year for getting the best from the crop. A wide range…


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Could carbon-cutting carinata provide a profitable break?

Seed technology firm Nuseed is hoping successful UK trials of new Brassica carinata varieties over the next two years will offer growers a new combinable crop opportunity to help boost…


Could sunflowers be grown on more UK farms?

Farmers looking to diversify their rotation or attract people on-farm to generate income could benefit from growing sunflowers this spring. Sunflowers provide a bulk ingredient in the bird-seed market and…


New winter varieties help to address mustard shortfall

Drought in Canada and war in Ukraine have combined to disrupt mustard supplies, with even the French region of Dijon having well-publicised problems securing supplies of brown mustard seed for…


Ukraine export disruption creates gap in UK millet market

The UK imported 70% of its millet from Ukraine before the Russian invasion, and with all exports from the country halted, farmers could profit from more home-grown millet this season.…


Why growers should consider growing borage in 2023

Borage looks set to be an attractive break crop option this spring, thanks to a more stable and growing crop demand within the oilseeds market. Specialist crop grower and family-run…


How key spring crop choices stack up for harvest 2023

Despite high input prices, good autumn conditions and the lure of high wheat prices at the time of drilling are likely to mean a larger area of winter cereals this…


RB209 N fertiliser rates for spring oats may be too low

Trials looking at nitrogen rates in oats suggest that RB209 recommendations are 30kg/ha too low for the spring crop. However, results also suggest grain quality may be reduced with higher…


Brussels sprouts – everything you ever wanted to know

Ever wondered why brussels sprouts are something of an acquired taste, why it is best to wait until after the first frost before eating them, or why they give us…


Are perennial grain crops close to being an alternative?

Perennial grain crops –those you only plant once before harvesting multiple times – would potentially deliver many favourable on-farm attributes – not least savings in seed and fuel costs, reduced…


Tips on reviewing arable crop rotations

This autumn may see rotational changes on farms, as producers grapple with the combined effects of reducing basic payment (BPS) incomes, volatile crop prices and hikes in input costs.  But…


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Video: Garford weeder ends crop failures at organic farm

Since starting to weed his cereal crops five years ago with a Garford mechanical hoe, organic grower Robert Hyde hasn’t lost any of his crops to weeds. In the past…


Video: How to calibrate your slug pellet spreader

Slug pellets and the potential harm they can cause to watercourses is under intensifying scrutiny. Making sure pellet spreaders are properly set up will be vital to avoid breaching the…


Video: Grower undersows with clover to cut fertiliser costs

A regenerative farmer is experimenting with white clover understories to reduce his nitrogen fertiliser bills and provide additional grazing for the ewe flock. The price of natural gas, a key…


Video: 7 pre-season checks every sprayer should have

Spring is just around the corner and farmers up and down the land are drawing up battle plans about how best to tackle the impending mountain of work. With many…