I've finally got round to writing a post again after a busy few weeks.To quickly bring you up to date; like everyone we really need some rain now! But last week saw the maize being drilled and the T1 spray program for the winter wheat’s completed. The maize has been drilled with two different drills this year as a trial - our Kverneland TS drill (with 3/4 of the pipes blocked off) that we use for the wheat/beans and a precision drill (also applying a starter fertiliser) so I'll keep an update of how the two methods are progressing on here.
Over the next few days the OSR will get its sclerotinia spray and the wheat’s will receive the final Nitrogen application - something we're not rushing about to get done with the dry weather and the lack of any forecast rain soon. Once that's done I've got the Young Farmers AGM in Blackpool (and then game cover drilling) to look forward too..
We've been fairly busy over the last few days either mucking out cattle sheds, cultivating ground ready for maize, putting fertiliser or spraying.. so here's a few photos of what's been going on..
Finally a couple of 'croppy' pictures - the first is the OSR - its finally at the flower bud stage so we're having to keep a careful eye on it for signs of pollen beetle; once the buds open the pollen beetle aren't a problem but until then they will bite into the bud to get to the pollen and damage it. There is a threshold of 15 per plant before any action is needed to control them - so far the most we've counted is 12, but luckily that number has since fallen to under 10 - still careful checking is still required over the next few days (if you look closely you can see a black spot, which is a pollen beetle between the buds)
The second is of the Fuego Spring Beans that were drilled on the 10/11th March - they're just starting to emerge and in a couple of days the tramlines will be visible and the fields should start to have a green colour too them. They received a pre emergence spray to control weeds, which has worked well as the fields all look to be nice and clean. The reason for a pre-emergence spray is because it allows a spray to be used that would also kill off the beans if they came into contact with it.
I've been doing some 'extra-curricular' farming this week, in the form of the final cultivation and sowing of a conservation grass and wildflower mix for English Heritage at Wrest Park to create a lowland meadow habitat.
The ground where this conservation mix now is had been left fallow for about 8 years until last June when it was sprayed off with glyphosate and then cultivated with our Simba DTX and left to weather and 'green up' again. Once a good establishment of small weeds had occurred it was then pressed with the Cultipress and left to 'green up' again - leaving it for a few weeks between cultivation passes allows weed seeds that are in the ground to germinate, the following cultivation then kills the small weeds without the need for additional uses of herbicide. The next planned step was to carry out a final application of glyphosate and then drill the conservation mix last autumn, however the weather got the better of us and the ground became too wet for drilling. The ground was finally dry enough last week, so after the final dose of glyphosate to kill of the weeds that had germinated over winter and early spring, it was springtined - with some chain harrows trailed behind - to lift the top few centimetres of soil and level the ground.
The seed mixture that had to be sown was made up of lots of different wild flowers and four different types of grass; because of this the seed needed to be broadcast onto the surface rather than placed into the soil like agricultural crops. To do this either required a specialist piece of machinery - which we didn't have available- or for us to use our conventional drill but not run it with the seeding points in the ground… The resulting picture of how we used it can be seen below. It also had to be sown at quite a low seed rate - 8kg/acre - and we had strict instructions not to run out! So it was sown at half rate in one direction, and then the final half rate in a different direction, this enabled the drill to be recalibrated after the first pass if too much, or too little seed had been used.There was a problem with running the drill in the air, this being that it would not carry out any levelling of the soil as it went across the field, meaning the small furrow created by the drills marker arm would not be covered and would an uneven seedbed. Tis was overcome by using the GPS steering kit fitted to the tractor - once setup it steers the tractor parallel to its previous pass with the driver only having to turn round at each end, giving them more time to watch the drill (or other implement) to make sure everything is running smoothly. Once the field had been sown with the seed mix it looked quite smart with the tractor wheel marks crossing it at angles...