Mike Cumming is manager at
Lour Farms, Ladenford,
Forfar, Angus, where spring
malting barley and seed
potatoes occupy about half
the 749ha (1850 acres).
Other crops include winter
wheat, barley and oats,
oilseed rape, swedes and
SPRING barley is tillering well with early sown fields approaching stem extension.
Overall, the crop looks better than it has done for several years and our thoughts are turning to a spray program. Weed control will centre on Harmony M (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl), but fungicide decisions are not so easy. On Prisma and Optic we will use Fortress (quinoxyfen) or Mantra (epoxiconazole + fenpropimorph + kresoxim-methyl) in an effort to suppress mildew but will probably stick with triazoles on Chariot.
A T1 spray of 0.5 litres/ha Landmark (epoxiconazole + kresoxim-methyl) with 0.2 litres/ha of Torch (spiroxamine) has been applied to early wheats along with a second dose of Meteor (chlormequat + choline chloride + imazaquin) taking the total to 2.5 litres/ha. Late wheat after potatoes is destined for a similar program shortly. All 225kg/ha (180 units/acre) of nitrogen is now on.
Back in the office, the manic increase in paranoid recording continues. Satisfying Scottish Quality Cereals and the Health and Safety Executive demands ever more time, not to mention the lunacy of LERAPS (Local Environment Risk Assessment for Pesticides).
I remain a firm SQC supporter. But rules introduced since the initial set-up are starting to look like intrusive policing of farm practice, all at the farmers expense. The after-shock of BSE brought a sense of urgency among farmers to prove all production methods are sound. This is in danger of going too far. Each year SQC demands more of members, yet struggles to demonstrate financial benefits to those that meet the cost. We must not let such schemes become an administrative burden that is both intrusive and buyer led.
Potato planting kicked-off in mid-April but rain stopped play on May 6 with 10ha (25 acres) left to plant. Our 60ha (150 acres) is split between 13 varieties, grown as 27 different crops, which makes planting tricky with no room for error. I take my hat off to all the staff, as they make it look straightforward. This diligence is repeated on all our enterprises. Well done. *
Leonard Morris is tenant at
206ha (510 acre) White
House Farm, South Kyme
Fen, Lincoln. His heavy land
grows winter wheat and
oilseed rape and spring peas
and linseed. Lighter ground is
cropped with potatoes,
spring rape and linseed
APRIL brought 47mm (1.9 in) of rain, compared to 81mm (3.2 in) last year. That allowed us to finish drilling three weeks earlier and we were pleased to have got as much work done as we had.
We applied 250kg/ha of 20:5:15 to the linseed on light land using compound as it was so wet earlier in the year. Then, between showers, I managed to apply 2.8 litres/ha of Opogard (terbuthylazine + terbutryn) to the peas. As I left the field 6mm (0.2 in) of rain arrived and the peas were up 48 hours later. I would like to say it was good management, but it would not be true. It is nice to be lucky with the weather once in a while.
Dry weather at the turn of the month saw a lot of work done in the area. Nathan, our Canadian student, applied the last 43kg/ha (34 units/acre) of N to the winter wheat. This was followed by 86kg/ha (69 units/acre) on the spring wheat. Meanwhile, I sprayed the later drilled winter wheat with Duplosan (mecoprop-P) at 2.0 litres/ha for cleavers and chickweed. Amistar (azoxystrobin) and Folicur (tebuconazole) went in the mix at 0.6 litres/ha and 0.5 litres/ha respectively plus 2.0 litres/ha of chlormequat. The crop was nicely at GS31-32 so hopefully the spray will work well. On earlier drilled wheats, at GS 32-33, 0.75 litres/ha of Starane (fluroxypyr) was used instead of the Duplosan.
Heavy-land linseed had 43kg/ha (34 units/acre) of N towards the end of the first week of May when it was about 25mm (1in) tall. Since then it has rained most days, with some nasty storms. Light land linseed needs a herbicide and spring wheat will soon need spraying for weeds and disease. Our peas look reasonable and are standing about 150mm (6 in) tall as I write. However, oilseed rape is just past full flower and starting to lean in places due to the heavy storms. Some warm sunny weather would not go amiss. *
James Moldon manages the
220ha (550 acres) heavy
land Stanaway Farm, Otley,
Suffolk, for the Felix
Thornley Cobbold Agricultural
Trust. Crops include winter
wheat,barley, OSR, beans,
linseed and sugar beet
THE past few weeks have proved difficult for spraying and my agronomist has resorted to a recommendation of double whisky plus ice to combat crop stress! Im not sure if it was intended for him or me.
However, all spraying is up to date, apart from some Claire winter wheat. At T1 it is getting 0.75 litres/ha of Orka (fenpropimorph + quinoxyfen) on top of our standard 0.3 litres/ha of Opus (epoxiconazole) plus 0.75 litres/ha of Bravo (chlorothalonil). The aim is to give it some extended mildew protection due to its low resistance rating.
After finally deciding that the risk of sclerotinia was too high in the oilseed rape, we applied 1.0 litres/ha of mbc and 0.5 litres/ha of folicur (tebuconazole), aiming to suppress alternaria too.
We have tried the Hydro nitrogen crop sensor on half of two fields of first wheat with our final application of nitrogen. A base rate of 70 kg/ha (56 units/acre) was set on the computer and the rate is then varied automatically according to the reflectiveness of the crop. The other half of each field had 70 kg/ha applied with our normal pneumatic spreader. Both machines put on virtually the same total of product, but the sensor supposedly spreads it more effectively. It will be interesting to see if the combine yield mapper picks up any differences between the two techniques.
Last week I spent two days at the LEAF training event for demonstration farmers and supporters. We visited farms and had seminars to discuss the direction LEAF is heading. It still amazes me how people think that LEAF farmers have to have a formal qualification in Integrated Crop Management (ICM) and are "greenies" who would rather spend time talking to the plants and animals than being a profitable farmer!
As a LEAF farmer I would like to dispel both these myths. Public perception of farming seems to be ever more important and LEAF is one way of improving the image of UK agriculture. *
Bill Harbour is manager for
GosmereFarm Partners at
448ha (1107 acre) Gosmere
Farm, Sheldwich, Faversham,
Kent. Crops include wheat,
barley, oilseed rape, peas
and beans plus cherries
under the Countryside
THE wind dropped for the holiday weekend and we caught up with spraying. As we didnt use Avadex (tri-allate) in the autumn and because of the delays we have some rather big wild oats.
Cheetah (fenoxaprop-P-ethyl) at 1.0 litre/ha plus oil is going to cost us £20/ha (£8/acre). Half of the oilseed rape had 1.5 litres/ha of Konker (carbendazim + vinclozolin), but where alternaria is more of a concern we will use 2.0 litres/ha of Compass (iprodione + thiophanate-methyl).
Soon we will put on another 40kg/ha (32 units/acre) of nitrogen on the milling wheat for protein. Normally we would use a liquid but the prills are in the barn, so we plan to use them up. The Hydro Precise N trial on the farm is way behind us, having only applied about 100kg/ha (80 units/acre) so far. I expect their total will be similar to our normal 210kg/ha (170 units/acre), but they are not interested in keeping the crop nice and green, just the optimum use of fertiliser! It certainly is an amazing bit of kit and there should be some useful information later in the year.
I have had some interesting feedback on chemical transfer systems, and Cyanamid has apologised for the faulty kegs, apparently due to a slip-up with the quality control at the Dunkirk factory. For lower rate high-value chemicals I still think the Novartis Link Pack is best as it is simple and quick. We have used it for Tern (fenpropidin) and hopefully can for Folicur (tebuconazole) at T3. Next year Novartis will have a strob as well.
Kents link with France through the tunnel was recognised in Brussels some time ago by declaring the county part of a Euro-region including the Nord-Pas de Calais and Flanders. Now Kent FWAG and Campagnes Vivantes, the French equivalent, have got EU INTERREG 11 funding to undertake environmental audits and farm conservation plans, including exchange visits with farmers in Nord-Pas de Calais. *