With soil temperatures up, every plant, be it sown or wild, is bursting upwards down here in deepest Cornwall. But groundwater levels are incredibly low after the very dry winter. Soil moisture is fine with the small crop canopies and relatively low temperatures, but I”m wondering how well crops will bulk up if the dry continues.
Soil nitrogen levels have been influenced by the low rainfall over the winter. For the first time we have tested for nitrogen, to add to our regular tests for phosphate, potash, magnesium and pH, as a result of meeting Kemira”s Mike Shepherd and deciding to give their GrowHow service a try, which includes testing backed up by advice. I sampled two fields – a heavy field planted with oilseed rape following winter wheat, which had the straw removed, and a light loam field in wheat after spuds.
Surprisingly, the lighter field had more nitrogen available because of the preceding spuds – 34kg/ha compared with 22kg/ha. That ground is actually two fields of 2ha, so I thought it would be interesting to do text book as per RB209, cutting the rate back accordingly, versus past practice – chuck on 225kg/ha (180 units/acre). Yields and bushel weight will prove which is the most economic approach. See – send a farmer on a FACTS course and he thinks he knows it all.
Last month we took our daughter up to the Royal College at Cirencester for an interview. It was heartening to see a thriving agricultural college and 640ha (1600 acres) of real farming. Even better, they offered Louise a place on the agriculture and land management course, A-levels permitting. At least she has a college to go to – my old one, Seale-Hayne, is being sold off for development by Plymouth University.