August 2010 - Posts
Apart from the almost total lack of combining, some very damp bales and soggy, flat swaths of straw, no OSR drilled yet and no wheat stubbles cultivated yet.. there are a few good things about all this rain we've been having.
1. We've finally managed to find some time (while the water was there to get the drain in the correct place) to sorting out a wet patch in the corner of a field caused by surface water running down a track from a wood. It only took a digger, 40ft of pipe and a morning playing in some very sticky and wet clay!
Not an overly clear picture, but I think it just about shows what we've done - the offcut of pipe has been left on the edge in an attempt to stop anyone driving into the hole!
It also works! After some pretty heavy rain (a boring picture I know, but it was a pretty impressive shower considering it was bright and sunny 5minutes beforehand!) this afternoon it was quite satisfying to see that there was water running out of the pipe and into the ditch! The picture also shows the extent of volunteer OSR that we have got sort out, which brings me onto 'good things about all this rain, number 2’!2. All of the rain, and the delay with cultivations etc is going to help our with weed control program this autumn, and also help keep manufacturers of glyphosate in business! The conditions have allowed blackgrass to germinate before we've cultivated giving us the ideal opportunity to spray it off with glyphosate while we still have tramlines to follow and no worries about compaction of the seedbed.
It's not only blackgrass that has been establishing itself around the farm - areas of old grassland that was cultivated at the end of June ready for re-sowing this autumn are now green with grass, broadleaf weeds and thistles so these are also on the list for spraying.. If they ever dry out!The conditions have also benefited the 2011 Bedfordshire Young Farmers Rally, as it is being held on the farm at home and the grass was drilled the day before it started raining, so there is now a definite green colour to the site and car park, so (fingers crossed) it will establish well and be a good site for the event.
And number 3...We've been downsizing! Some people may thing we're mad... and I already know of a couple that do... but we're planning to pull the drill with smaller tractor than usual this year. This will free the 7920 up so that it can be used to pull the cultipress, or finish primary cultivations so that we can start drilling earlier, and also mean we have a lighter tractor pulling the drill so hopefully less wheeling’s will be visible! In previous years the 7920 has carried out all the cultivations mainly before drilling, sometimes leaving the 6630 to struggle along with the 4.6m cultipress. However, this year I intend to cultivate with the 7920, but use a 6420s to do the drilling - the theory being that a 4.8m Kverneland TS drill does not require the 200 horses the 7920 has under the bonnet, and that 120 will be sufficient in average conditions. The main problem I'm currently facing though is not to do with horses (I’m working on the fact that we used to pull a similar 4m drill with 100hp at home), or - at the moment - traction, as it will be fitted with terra tyres; it's the issue of being 2 cylinders short with the 6420s, and therefore having a very light front end.. We either need a bigger front weight, or to put the front tank on used for spraying which might obscure visibility abit...
I think it looks a neat little outfit, and it certainly seems like it will be better than having the 7920 upfront in terms of manoeuvrability and visibility of the tines etc. The 7920 will still be used to drill the beans if the sprayer has been put onto the 6420s, and for drilling the maize in the spring to save having to keep swapping implements so if it doesn't cope we can always swap back to the old system. I'll keep you up to date with how it handles it!Finally, I've just thought of a number 4! - Everything that I mentioned in my last post that had broke down has been fixed, including the JCB which decided to blow a hydraulic pipe off the pump on the Sunday morning, so we're all ready to go when its dried up! We did manage to get some combining and baling done on Tuesday and Wednesday last week but not alot and none that didn't need drying!
It seems nothing could go right today; after brilliant day combining yesterday where I managed 225 tonne in 9hours . Firstly the pickup hitch on the 6600 was playing about and after half an hour struggling with rusty threads, it was finally adjusted and working; the combine on the other hand was not. One of the hydraulic pipes to the header had sprung a leak, and after taking the connectors apart to inspect the problem and cleaning them it became more of a constant stream than a drip! So a simple fix? not quite! a struggle to find the correct sized o-rings or new connectors ment that combining was delayed another hour and a half.
The day then seemed to go alright, we moved the combine to a small field with the remaining Solstice wheat in and managed to get it all cut without being stopped by what looked like a definate shower coming our way. We then moved a few miles to some Einstein second wheats where things seemed to start going wrong. After two rounds of the first headland the drum speed dropped from 890 to 420. On attempting to increase the speed back up and nothing happening it became apparent that all was not ok and on opening the side panel the splattering of oil around various pulleys and guards identified the problem - a burst seal on the drum speed variator pulley.. Combining stopped for today then, as dealer's mechanics were busy elsewhere so can't get to us till tomorrow morning. That not seeming to be enough I returned to the yard to find out that the baler had broken down - the fan that keeps the knotters dust free failing and needing to be replaced - another job not possible to do until tomorrow morning.
Then, to finally top the day off I had an incident with the 7920. I decided that with ground conditions fairly dry and a couple of hours of daylight left I'd pull the two leg subsoiler through where the muck heaps had been to help dry them out, however after hitching it up I managed to get 50yards across the yard before the bottom of the linkarm where it is attached to the tractor decided to pull itself off the ball and drop the subsoiler onto the floor (a problem which had happened to the otherside linkarm a few months ago so I'm told) All I can say is I'm glad it wasn't with the DTX on, and while I was on the road! With that I decided to go home and see how dad was getting on combining.. and suprise suprise.. He'd had a puncture and had also stopped!
So its been a fun day!
..I've had a pedigree texel lamb named after me.. A friend from Uni, Rob Pierce, has for some reason named one of his pedigree texel lambs 'Oldford Ratty Redman' (my nickname at Uni was Ratty..) and it's for sale! http://www.texel.co.uk/auctionsales/catalogues/100825scottish.pdf
Getting back to normal.. After a non forecast thunderstorm yesterday evening stopped us combining and baling; today was spent carrying out the 100hour service of the combine, bale carting and continuing to dry what we had cut on Monday and yesterday - a task that will take all day tomorrow as well even though the drier is running near enough non-stop 24hours a day. When the wheat was tested late this afternoon it was around 17.5% MC, so with any luck we should be able to press on tomorrow.
It would also appear that I have finally given in to joining twitter, even though I said I never would! I have no idea what exactly I'll use it for yet, probably just random information about whats going on, or winding me up! so if you want to follow me it's @redmanmatt
...do some more combining?! I dont think we'll be doing much this week - at least, if you go by the weather on Countryfile tonight; it looks as though tomorrow is the best day this week and then we get more rain. Wheat was 22% MC this afternoon, so we might get a bit done tomorrow. The fields are no longer golden in colour, with alot starting to look black, with straw that is laying in swaths not looking good either.. maybe its time for an anti-rain dance?
P.S. I've now got round to getting pictures sorted! (Thanks Tim) so that should make for something more interesting to look at!
Also on the subject of pictures, for some cracking pictures of whats going on in Suffolk take a look at www.ryansfarmingphotos.co.uk (There you go Ryan!)
After the last few days of rain I'm running out of jobs around the yard; all the rape stubbles have been cultivated, and cultipressed and just need some weather and they'll be fit to drill, and the only wheat stubbles that have been baled and cleared are going into maize and still need muck spreading on them before they can be ploughed - which is still in the bottom of the cattle sheds!
While cultivating the rape stubbles the other day I had abit of a dig about to see if I could remember anything from the lectures I had on soils back in my first year at Uni, and I'm not sure I can - Although I think I found some compaction layers, I think it was my method of digging the profile pit that needs changing, as I seemed to end up with smeared sides which didn't show much. Eventually I managed to get better result, which showed how deep I was working with the subsoiler legs and (i think) where there were two layers of compaction, one around 6 inches and the other around 12, where I couldn't get my spade any deeper! It maybe that where I was looking was the worst place in the field, as it was right under a combine wheel mark, and possibly muckspreader as well - I guess this is the place to look though? so that any remedial work fixes the worst areas?
I plan to dig a couple of pits in some wheat stubbles to see if there are any evident compaction layers there; before, and after straw has been baled and carted, so any help with how I should go about it would be very helpful.
Hopefully the weather will improve in the next few days - meaning that the forecasts are wrong - so that we can get on with combining and the straw that is building up behind our combine can be baled, as we're focusing on clearing neighbours fields as fast as we can behind their combines.
We finished combining the Oilseed Rape today; before it had any heavy showers on it which is good as it looks like it has yielded fairly well. We only had Castille so haven't got anything else to compare it to, but it will almost certainly be grown again next year - the main decision will be whether to spray, or swath? As Round-up has taken so long to work this year, although the Pod-Stick used seems to have worked well. Other good news is that we are catching the combine up with the muckspreader and cultivator which is also a bonus as it looks like the muckspreading will be finished before the tractor is needed on the baler.
It looks like we'll be straight into the wheat as soon as it is dry, as it was 15.3% MC yesterday (there was a bit of rain this evening just after we finished the rape), with some farms locally already started on it.