This time last year I would have been rushing around having only just finished combining, trying to get the oilseed rape in and all the ground cultivated.
This year, however, I have found time to visit Tillage Live, knowing that all the primary cultivations have been completed for over a week. I'm hoping event will provide some useful information on how to improve our current practices and possibly options for alternatives; along with the "Knowledge Trail" providing me with some good revision for my BASIS training.
Harvest finished on 1 September, after nearly a two-week break between wheat and some spring beans. Amazingly, we combined everything in 14 days, only worked past 9pm once and had no major breakdowns. I didn't even lose a knife section. Unfortunately, the same good fortune didn't go as far as crop yields, which were better than expected in places, but overall below average.
This year saw a pretty major change to our bale-handling system, with the addition of a chaser rather than loader tractor and trailer. There was some controversy to start with on whether it would be able to keep up with the baler given the distance we have had to travel due to poor straw yields, but it was. In fact, it allowed us to get fields cleared quicker than before, helping to keep the neighbours happy and allowing ground work to start in good time.
The rape establishment system we have used also looks successful, with good germination and plants now starting to get true leaves. It is too early to tell whether the liquid nitrogen applied in bands while drilling, at 15kg/ha of N, will have a benefit over applying granular nitrogen at 30kg/ha afterwards - but it has saved a day's work and some valuable fertiliser.
Arable Farmer Focus: Matt Redman