Arable

FARMER FOCUS: OSR is rotting in the the fields

Sunday 31 March 2013 06:36
Keith Challen

On behalf of myself, Jenny, Harriet and James I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to everybody who has taken the time to get in touch after the death of my daughter Emily. It's fair to say we are completely overwhelmed by everybody's support, especially the empathy shown by parents who also have lost a child, I continue to be astounded by the loss of teenage life on rural roads, quite simply, the law needs to change to protect our loved ones.

I wish I could paint an upbeat picture on the state of the farm, but it just looks poor. The wheat is struggling to hold its own and the oilseed rape is dying at an alarming rate due to prolonged anaerobic conditions, simply just rotting in the ground and if that's not bad enough pigeons are decimating what's left.

However, no matter how bad it may seem, it doesn't begin to compare to the horrific loss of stock experienced by a lot of hill farmers in the last bout of snow. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be dragging ewes out of snow drifts or finding new born lambs frozen to death, it just seems so cruel.

This week saw the retirement of our arable foreman John Coleman, a true legend of the land in these parts, in an unbelievable 41 years on the farm John has seen it all, but this year takes the prize for being the worst for weather.

Being a true heavy land farm, high horsepower has been the feature of his tractor driving career starting out on a County 1184 with a Howard rotavator, others of interest include a John Deere 4430 and 8440 before the arrival of the real boys' toys, a Caterpillar D8 and a Steiger Panther in 1983 and 1985, respectively. These two brutes formed the backbone of the fleet for many years before the arrival of a Quadtrac, a full 41 years and not an single acre ploughed, he's a true min-till expert. Many thanks John for your dedication and friendship.

Keith Challen manages 800ha 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

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