Keith Challen standing in front of his sprayerKeith Challen © Tim Scrivener

I would like to thank everyone who attended and supported us at our farm sale recently.

Everything was sold, with some items reaching very pleasing levels and a few bargains mixed in.

I’m pleased to say we reached our goal, allthough it was a little sad to see the old ERF lorry pull out of the farm gate for the last time.

What I didn’t realise was how long some of the machinery would hang about. We still have some items in the yard now.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

My new hobby is waiting for blackgrass to germinate. I have to admit it is not easy sitting on your hands when seed-beds are perfect and the weather is fair, but I’m glad I have.

Like waiting for a bus, nothing came along until the last minute, then it all seemed to arrive at once on 18 October with a massive flush.

I’m glad I kept the faith, I know I am not alone, with fellow farmers and managers encouraging me on Twitter to stand firm.

It is going to be a quick dash around with the sprayer and then out with our new 12m Amazone Citan drill in a race to beat the weather.

I know the window is going to be small. I did drill some wheat last week on blackgrass-free land with outstanding success.

Not only did the drill place seed and phosphate perfectly, it did it at a rate I previously could only have dreamed of, easily covering 20-25 acres an hour. Considering I was piloting it, this was quite an achievement, especially as I didn’t bend anything.

Hopefully by the time you read this we will be drilled up and well into shooting and show season.

With CropTech and the Midland Machinery Show just around the corner and the odd day with dog and gun, it will be time to reflect on the season past.

Our new anti-blackgrass system has gone OK so far, machinery choices have been the right ones and our timeliness has been good.

But I suspect this has all been easy compared with what’s around the corner when Brexit unfolds and the reality of farming outside Europe comes home.


Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.