Archive Article: 1997/04/17 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997


Required by crops for nitrogen synthesis, so an adequate supply could be more important if

nitrogen use is restricted,

predicts Mr van der Slikke. In the USA the nutrient is widely applied to arable crops to cut nitrogen rates and increase yield. Analysis of tissue samples can confirm suspected deficiency in cereals and OSR. Symptoms are

effectively eliminated with a spring foliar zinc spray. Such treatment is still far from

common in the UK.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

The road to Noah…the A1 in Cambridgeshire this week looking more like a jetty than a major trunk route after the worst floods for 150 years. Many farmers, the majority of whom are not insured against floods, saw crops submerged. At Louis Baughs (left) Neatishead Farm, Norwich, 20ha (50 acres) of newly drilled sugar beet had barely begun to root before it was washed away under a deluge of water.

The road to Noah…the A1 in Cambridgeshire this week looking more like a jetty than a major trunk route after the worst floods for 150 years. Many farmers, the majority of whom are not insured against floods, saw crops submerged. At Louis Baughs (left) Neatishead Farm, Norwich, 20ha (50 acres) of newly drilled sugar beet had barely begun to root before it was washed away under a deluge of water.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

Cargriff Mandela (pictured) from Camarthenshire breeder G S Morris took the championship at the British Charolais Cattle Societys spring bull show and sale at Welshpool last week. This son of Mortimers Jaguar, and out of Ensdon Candy, was claimed by T E Williams and Son, Caersws, at 2200gns. But the top price of 2600gns went to Tynewydd Mal, an October 1996-bred son of Taxal Charlie and bred out of a Chesham cow. From D T and M O Morgan, Llangorse, Brecon, this bull was bought by G P Pugh and Co, Rhayader. Overall, 25 head averaged £1467. (Welshpool Livestock Sales.)

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

The journey from field to fork almost complete… British lamb on sale at Peter Harpers shop near Dunstable, Beds. The quality of new-season lamb is excellent this year, says Mr Harper, although it faces stiff competition from some "slick" New Zealand promotion.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037-acre) holding

near Kelso, Scottish Borders

and Gattonside Mains with

180ha (455 acres) grass

(LFA). Stocking is 340

sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree

Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd,

60 pedigree Suffolk and

960 commercial ewes

I SUPPOSE I am no different to any other farmer – always commenting, never complaining about the weather. The last four weeks has seen dry, mild weather produce some of the most vigorous growth I can ever remember.

Sheep are being turned out into fields where you can hardly see their lambs among the grass. This growth can also be seen in all the arable crops with some of the wheats resembling silage fields.

However, the Lord never allows us to be complacent and true to form, on Apr 2 he delivered a crushing blow: Some storm force winds, lashing rain and temperatures only a few degrees above freezing. In one field alone we lost nearly 40% of the lambs.

Since then we have had 80mm of rain making a total of 97mm since last months report. Consequently, ewes and lambs have been held inside for as long as possible which is very frustrating with as much grass in the fields.

This morning it is snowing and the temperature is 4C (39F) , so there are no real signs of being able to vacate the sheep pens.

This said, the lambing continues on at great pace and the ewes are now down to just a handful left to lamb. My mother informed me that my father always said that ewes lamb quicker when its wet because they are constantly shaking themselves rather than lying in a heap enjoying the sunshine. I dont know whether there is any truth in this?

Calvings have gone well and at Lempitlaw we are left with four Charolais, four Angus and four commercials. So far we have 100% calving. Gattonside continues on at not quite such a pace and a couple of cows and calves have had to be brought back in. We also have the problem of too much grass there but we darent put cows out just to poach it.

We are all preparing for the end of an era as Tommy the shepherd retires on Apr 18. Having been here since he was 15 he has not had a bad innings. He will not be replaced and we are planning a reduction sale on May 21 to leave us with about 300 ewes, which we will in-winter and lamb between myself and the cattlemen.

Hopefully by next month we will have managed to turn all the stock out onto the lush grass and summer will be here to stay. &#42

Lambing continues at a great pace, but ewes and lambs are having to stay in because of poor weather, says Ewan Brewis.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

Brian Hammond

Brian Hammond is farm

manager for Carnreagh

Farms at the 182ha (450-

acre) Ballyalloly Farm,

Comber, Co Down, where he

grows 50ha (125 acres) of

potatoes as well as cereals

and oilseed rape

As I write this, it has just stopped raining after almost three consecutive days. Land is now as wet as any day during the winter.

Prospects are not any better either, with more rain forecast and turning colder with snow showers and night frosts. If ever there was a year when we needed the weather to work for us and not against us, then this is it.

Apart from a little spraying and fertiliser sowing, no fieldwork has been carried out for a fortnight. Field preparations for potato planting are falling behind and we have not ploughed any land yet.

However, this will probably work to our advantage as we have always found freshly ploughed land dries out much faster. It will take at least two weeks of good drying to get land into good enough condition to allow a start to planting. Luckily, most of our seed is still in cold storage.

On the cereal front we have been keeping up quite well, thanks to our two Lightfoots. But we now urgently need to apply the second nitrogen to barley and the first to the later sown wheat.

Spraying is also behind. Most urgent is chlormequat on the wheat after last years potato crop. With a blast of wintry weather forecast, care must be taken not to damage the crop, or worse still, miss out and risk lodging later on.

There seems to be a lot of talk lately about Farm Quality Assurance for cereals. We have been FQA for two years now and it is disappointing to find nobody is interested whether the grain is FQA or not, never mind paying a premium for it.

I am not suggesting FQA is a waste of time. Quite the opposite. It should be made compulsory as we do not want any BSE style disaster to happen to the cereal sector. &#42

Farm Quality Assured grain, but does anybody care? Northern Ireland farmer Brian Hammonds cereals have been assured for two years now, but he is yet to see a premium or any appreciation from buyers.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

Jim Bullock

Jim Bullock farms 283ha

(700 acres) in partnership

with his parents and brother

at Mill Farm, Guarlford,

Malvern, Worcs. Two-thirds

is rented or contract farmed,

the rest owned. Cropping is

winter wheat, winter oilseed

rape and winter beans

HERE we are at the end of the first week in April and it is too wet to get onto the land. The tramlines are all full of water and the land drains are running as fast as they were at the end of January.

Its quite a contrast to last year when we had drought from mid-March through until the first week in May. I would rather have a wet time now than at harvest.

The extremes of weather patterns are becoming even more noticeable, particularly with regards to rainfall. Heavy downpours are leading to more soil erosion and surface runoff than we would like to see.

Crops have grown well in the past three weeks. Most wheat has reached GS31 with forward crops in advance of GS32. Fortunately, we managed to apply the first growth regulator Adjust (chlormequat) and fungicide PP375 (chlorothalonil + flutriafol) to the more advanced crops before the weather deteriorated.

The wet weather has brought on another flush of weeds in some of the crops, especially redshank, which will need spraying if conditions allow it to compete with the crop.

Most of the wheat will be ready for its main nitrogen top dressing of 106kg/ha (85 units/acre) in the next 7-10 days, with another application of 42.5kg/ha (34 units/acre) planned for early May. We have applied 62.5kg/ha (50 units/acre) so far.

The Apex oilseed rape grew over 30cm (12in) in a week and looked as if it would be in full flower by the end of March, but cold nights have slowed it down considerably. There are a few flowers showing in the crop but the remainder is still at green bud stage.

We have seen some pollen beetle on one or two of the flowers but no sign of any in the buds as yet. Hopefully, colder weather will reduce their numbers.

It is our policy to spend as little as possible on beans, but Target will soon need spraying for pea and bean weevil, as well as chocolate spot present on some of the lower leaves. &#42

Wet weather has confined the sprayer and fertiliser spreader to the yard on Jim Bullocks Worcestershire farm.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

Trevor Horsnell

Trevor Horsnell, a former

Sugar Beet Grower of the

Year, part owns and rents

182ha (450 acres) at

Gorrells Farm, Highwood,

Chelmsford, Essex. Besides

beet, his cropping includes

potatoes and winter wheat,

barley and oilseed rape

APRIL showers continue to frustrate our attempts at land work, with 20mm (0.8in) of rain over five days before Easter sufficient to confine tractors to the yard.

Although we badly need significant rainfall following a mere 107mm (4in) in the past three months, it would be nice to get a good downpour and then dry up, rather than dribs and drabs.

All the chitted potato seed was planted by the end of March. Piper seed had accumulated 300 day degrees and Estima 200 day degrees, in little more than two months in the chitting shed. The rest of the Estima and the Desiree are being held in the cold store to prevent excessive sprouting.

Sugar beet drilling was completed on Mar 22 – our earliest ever. The seed was drilled slightly shallower than normal, as soil conditions were excellent and there was very little moisture loss behind the power harrow/drill combination working straight onto ploughed land.

The crop is emerging well, just in time to catch the frosts that are forecast for Easter weekend no doubt.

We shall shortly be saying farewell to one of our staff. Robin, who has been with us for six years since completing his degree, is off to take up a management post in Suffolk. His contribution to the farm will be greatly missed, but in the current economic climate it is unlikely that we shall appoint a replacement.

Much thought has been given recently to upgrading our sprayer, drill and cultivation techniques.

All the wheats apart from Soissons have received Apres (quinoxyfen) and flutriafol to hopefully give prolonged protection against mildew, which is normally our biggest fungal enemy.

We will be using Amistar (azoxystrobin) based programmes on some fields, starting at GS32 next week. But I cant help wondering where all this extra wheat, which these new fungicides are supposed to give, us will find a home. &#42

Mildew is normally the biggest fungal enemy for Trevor Horsnalls wheat. All bar Soissans has now received quinoxyfen + flutriafol.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

DRIFT has always been a key concern when spraying and is reinforced by MAFFs recently revised Green Code.

"Drift outside the treatment area is a legal no no," stresses Paul Miller, spray technology specialist at Silsoe Institute.

But the need for timely applications can raise drift risks. Higher forward speed and lower water volumes can be culprits.

Tank mixing and adding adjuvants may also alter spray quality significantly, according to recent work at Silsoe Institute.

Such issues need taking into account on top of the traditional factors most operators concentrate on of wind, boom height and equipment maintainance.

Reduce drift

"The only way to control drift risk with a conventional fan nozzle is to increase droplet diameter, by using a lower pressure, alongside the highest possible droplet speed when it comes out of the nozzle. But that leads to conflicting pressure requirements," acknowledges Dr Miller.

It is important to keep within the recommended pressure range for a given spray quality, preferably working toward the lower end of the range, he notes.

Boom height should be kept 40-50cm (16-20in) above the soil, crop or weed, whichever is the highest.

Low-drift nozzles can reduce drift by producing a larger droplet size, Dr Miller notes. But size must remain within the spray quality required for the product being applied.

"They are particularly good for some low volume applications, such as residual herbicides," he notes. But they do not maintain efficacy of a product in a growing crop as well as air inclusion jets.

The latter seem more efficacious because of their aerated structure. But take care, he advises. "If either type is used at low volume on fine targets, such as blackgrass, insufficient chemical may hit each plant because there are just not enough droplets produced." &#42

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

John Martin

John Martin farms in

partnership with his parents

on the Ards Peninsula 15

miles south of Belfast. The

65ha (160-acre) Gordonall

farm and 16ha (40 acres) of

rented land carry 400

Suffolk x Cheviot ewes, a

small flock of Suffolks and

40 spring calving sucklers.

About 20ha (50 acres) of

barley is grown for feed and

for sale

IT IS ALWAYS said that silence is golden, but it is never more true than after weaning lambs. Our first batch of 110 ewes were weaned from their offspring at the end of March, and within 48 hours peace had returned once more.

Use of a creep gate allowed the lambs access to fresh spring grass while the ewes finished off the stumps of the forage rape. When weaning came the mothers were almost dried off and their offspring hardly noticed they had gone.

The ewes were examined for any mouth or udder problems and any culls will be sold after the end of the retention period. They remain outside to improve body condition before sale, while the ewes to be retained were housed with straw, water and minerals available. The first of the spring lambs were sold at weaning, averaging 21.3kg deadweight and coming into £63.90. Certainly from all indications, it is going to be a difficult year and we can only attempt to market as strongly as possible.

The March lambers were all but finished by early April with a reasonable crop. We seemed to have a run of single lambs at the start, but have finished up fairly well considering that we had ewe lambs and replacement hoggets in this batch. Many of these ewes and lambs are outside, but they have had some April monsoons rather than showers to deal with.

Last month I mentioned that our heifers had started calving with few problems. Well, I spoke too soon and we had to have the vet for three caesarians, which may be due to the new bull we purchased last year. On the other hand, we had a total of 42 calved by early April and hope to have only a handful left by the end of the month.

The sale of some late calvers last year has tightened up our calving pattern and will certainly make management easier this summer. The first 20 mothers and calves have been turned out onto some rented land, where there is plenty of shelter from mature hedges.

We ventured out with a few single punched bullocks a few weeks ago and although averaged 104p /kg, the price was down £80-£100/head on last year. The vote to lift the export ban for Northern Ireland beef has been long overdue, but hasnt resulted in great celebration. Within a couple of days the price had fallen, and now stands at 164p/kg for U3 grades. The strength of sterling is going to mean no return to profitability in the short term – a very sobering reality following our recent visit to the accountants. nMARTIN

March lambers at Gordonall Farm started with a run of singles, but have averaged reasonably well for the batch concerned, says John Martin.

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Archive Article: 1997/04/17

17 April 1997

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

40ha (100-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

having recently moved from

another 20ha (51-acre)

county council farm

WE MANAGED to get away for a few days at the end of March. Perhaps we dont realise how much we need a break until we take one, apparently even farmers wives need a break too.

I was finding it hard to switch off from farming even when I was away from the farm (I can remember thinking about ways to reduce the overdraft during a Jimmy Nail concert), and a break at this time of year is something to look forward to as it breaks up the routine of winter housing and turnout, which may not come until the end of April.

We have gone away in early spring for the last four years now, and last year this was the only holiday we had as we were very busy with the move. We also need to employ someone to do the milking and look after the farm in our absence, so a holiday can quickly become very expensive. So, relaxed and refreshed, we can tackle the next job in hand – silage making.

We all know how to make good silage. We are told often enough by companies trying to sell us additives, but something went wrong last year. We made some very wet silage, cut too soon after a spell of rain, which produced dry matters, as low as 17% on some tests, and low sugars.

The other problem was the "additive" chickweed which was spread on pastures. This led to a butyric fermentation in some areas of the clamp. It is noticeable that the cows drop in yield as they reach one of these patches so that the importance of the quality of forage is brought home to us.

We have used most of the silage we made last year and reached the silage left by the previous tenant. From the smell of it and the analysis, it has a butyric fermentation and is not suited to high yielding dairy cows. It is also unstable and will not keep well. It looks as though we must use this silage for the youngstock this summer to empty the clamp as quickly as possible and store this years grass silage in an Ag-bag. Although this will be expensive, we should have a high quality forage for the cows and the extra milk it produces should offset the cost. &#42

Most of last years silage has gone but now John Glover must use the butyric silage left by the previous tenant, and Ag-bag his first cut.

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