Late November’s drilled wheats have survived the unusually cold weather surprisingly well, and the anticipated crow attacks have not materialised, so I am now reasonably content with how the crops look.


The last of the soil sampling for this harvest year has just been completed. Results to date have confirmed that our zero phosphate policy can continue for another year. Levels are staying steady, no doubt due to a broiler litter application every third year on spring-planted crops.

We will be reducing our forage maize area this year and retrying linseed after a 12-year break. The maize is getting harvested later each year and margins are not keeping pace with other crops. Linseed is cheap to grow and we have a local market currently being filled by imports. I hope to try spreading chopped willow on the straw sward and round-baling the mixture as a fuel for a local farm boiler. It’s probably another mad idea, but you never know.

I didn’t make the LAMMA show. Big expensive machinery holds little attraction for me. A wise man once told me “machinery depreciates, land appreciates”, which seems sound advice to me.

The Ulster Arable Society will hold its annual conference on 17 February. The theme is “The Answer lies in the Soil” and with a line-up of keynote speakers there should be plenty of food for thought on agronomy for all participants.

Mistake of the month: I had a beer and crisps afternoon in front of the fire with a few friends watching Ulster qualify for the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup. I decided to vacuum up afterwards and accidentally sucked some smouldering embers into the machine. The dust bag caught fire, but luckily the smell warned me before there too much damage. The good news is I am now barred from using the hoover.

 

 

 

 

 

farmer focus arable: allan chambers