Bill Harbour - Farmers Weekly

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Bill Harbour

21 May 1999

Mike Cumming

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

grass

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. &#42

Leonard Morris

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. &#42

James Moldon

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. &#42

Bill Harbour

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

Stewardship scheme

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. &#42

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Bill Harbour

6 November 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, last years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme

SO far we have had 140mm (5.5in) of rain in October and only eight days without rain. Even on our boys land in Gods own county things are rather wet.

A season like this makes our system struggle, as nearly 80% of our 470ha (1160 acres) is autumn drilled, not including winter beans. We still have a third of our winter wheat to drill.

In an average year we can cope. The JD6800, Case MX135, and the JCB525-58, at 120hp, 140hp and 90hp respectively make 350hp, or 0.74hp/ha. I would like to have more power available and I am rather envious when I see what some people have got. However, it has to be paid for and with current prices that is not so easy.

That said, in a year like this I would rather have more seed in the ground than in the shed. Only time will tell how much yield we lose.

We have exported a lot of our set-aside and have only got 13.5ha (33 acres) left. On 10ha (25 acres), 4 litres/ha of glyphosate has gone on to kill off the 5-6 years of grass. A spring wheat seed crop of variety Samoa will go in as soon as we can get to it.

All the oilseed rape has been treated for slugs as well as some of the wheat having put bait traps out after the drill. I have used Metarex (metaldehyde) in view of the wet conditions.

The case of our new Case MX135 is sub judice – I will tell all next time. Interestingly Case have laid off staff at Doncaster. I hope for everyones sake it was the Friday afternoon shift.

How do tyre makers get away with it? I find it incredible that a 600mm (23.6in) tyre can have a narrower footprint than a 520mm (20.8in) one. Could it be that Michelins Mr Bibendum is a bit slimmer these days?

How do the tyre makers get away with it, asks Kent grower Bill Harbour? A smaller footprint on new, apparently wider tyres is puzzling.

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Bill Harbour

22 May 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, last years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme

JUST when we thought we had caught up with the field work the wind blew for 10 days.

Before we knew it the flag leaf was out.

That forced us to put Terpal (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid + mepiquat chloride) on with the fungicide, rather than on its own. The result is a lot of mixing, some of which could be likened to the current mix and match of the car industry. The question is which mix is the Rolls Royce and which the BMW or the VW?

We have used either Opus (epoxiconazole) at 0.75 litres/ha, or Opus at 0.5 litres/ha + Amistar (azoxystrobin) at 0.5 litres/ha, or Folicur (tebuconazole) at 0.5 litres/ha + Amistar at 0.5 litres/ha, or Landmark (kresoxim-methyl) at 0.75 litres/ha.

Septoria is the main problem, with only a small amount of mildew on Regina barley and Mallacca wheat, justifying the addition of a morpholine.

The Punch beans have had 1.5 litres/ha of Bravo (chlorothalonil) and the peas will get Fortrol (cyanazine) at 0.3 litres/ha and Pulsar (bentazone + MCPB) at 3 litres/ha.

The oilseed rape has had Konker (carbendazim + vinclozolin) at 1.5 litres/ha with (pirimicarb) at 420gm/ha to control cabbage mealy aphids.

The Synergy has caused a bit of concern locally, bad pod set on the bottom of the main stem in the wet and cold April and possible due to drilling it too early.

Just to be sure I called CPB/ Twyford. Breeder Liz Williams came down to have a look and was not concerned, saying the plants will branch out and compensate well. The Pronto looks very good – massive stalks like broomsticks.

Our local Case IH dealer SCATS has decided to pull out of machinery, having come into east Kent no more than 10 years ago. I hope someone takes over the franchises and the staff. Our green dealership is 100 years old and the blue/brown one is 168 years old. Meanwhile, SCATS motto is "Working with farmers for farmers". &#42

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Bill Harbour

27 March 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, this years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme

scheme

THIS month has been one of wind and some wet weather; since I last wrote we have had 57mm of rain, enough to hold up spraying.

The earliest wheat needed its first shot of CCC (chlormequat)before we could get to it. But better late than never – I hope.

We have been round the farm with Sulphur Gold to supply 75kg/ha of nitrogen (60 units/acre) plus sulphur. We have been back on the rape with more nitrogen, this time Nitram.

The Pronto has grown so much it had all the rest of its N in one go, taking it up to 220kg/ha (176 units/acre). The Synergy has also had the same treatment, but the Apex will get a third shot.

The field which was sown conventionally with Apex and Artus will get some more N later. It is growing now, but so are the weeds. Poppies are the main problem, which we can not do much about now.

My agronomist says kill it off and re-sow with spring rape. We say we have spent so much on hybrid seed, Butisan (metazachlor), etc, that a splash of red would be nice and give all the neighbours something to talk about.

All the wheat has had its first split of CCC with some manganese. We have not been tempted to put on any fungicides yet.

On the land we are farming for a neighbour the wheat did not have any autumn weed control, so we have used Ally Express (metsulfuron-methyl + carfentrazone) at 50gm/ha and 2 litres/ha of IPU. I hope it works.

I started to drill peas today. First in will be 16ha (40 acres) of Solara, then 55ha (136 acres) of Bunting. They will be treated with Opogard (terbuthylazine + terbutryn) at 2 litres/ha. I always have to go back for volunteer rape and cleavers. &#42

Fast growing rape has demanded its full dose of N on Bill Harbours Gosmere Farm, Kent. But another area is struggling to compete with weeds.

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Bill Harbour

27 February 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, this years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme.

DRY weather has let us get on; ploughing is done and we tried out a Case MX135 and a New Holland 8640.

Both about 135hp, they did the job OK, but though manufacturers say they listen to what we want, I still think they are a bit deaf.

The winter beans have been harrowed and sprayed with 1.5 litres/ha of simazine. Last years yield has been confirmed as 173.34t off 26ha. It is a pity only 50t went for seed. Surely a lot more people would like to grow beans?

The peas have all gone as well, with 168.2t sold off 40ha. That is not as good as usual, but not bad for an outclassed variety. We achieved good grades, with waste and stain averaging 5.3% and 136t getting a seed premium. This years seed will be delivered any day and by the time you read this I will be itching to get them in, provided the soil is warm enough.

All the oilseed rape has had Sulphur Gold at 250kg/ha of product (30%N:10%S03). Some also went on to the last sown wheat, which suffered rabbit and game damage.

That has given us a chance to try out the new ZAM Maxtronic spreader with 2t hoppers. After some years of good service and looking at all other makes we bought another Amazone.

Once calibrated, it made life much easier. Key in the details and off you go – 80-100ha a day with the two of us using 500kg bags and the JCB.

It is amazing, with fallen grain prices, that merchants and manufacturers are inviting us out to learn about "new chemistry", and some not-so-new chemistry. We would like to know if prices will come down in line with wheat returns, and will product be rationed?

Do not forget to light the beacons tonight and go to London on Sunday. &#42

The two-man team at Gosmere Farm has been flying across 80-100ha a day of top-dressing, helped by a new spreader, 500kg bags, and the JCB. But Bill Harbour would like to know, will input costs reflect fallen grain prices?

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Bill Harbour

30 January 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, last years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus cherries

under the Countryside

Stewardship scheme

scheme.

FIRST field work for a month finally took place on Jan 19. We tried a JCB 135 4WS tractor, which handled the plough very impressively. We hope to try some other contenders before we finish.

I have put all the rainfall records on the computer. They show how wet it has been. In December, we had 121mm (4.8in), almost twice the 18-year mean. The 1997 total was 757mm (30in) compared with the mean of 674mm (27in).

The first three weeks of January gave 97mm (3.9in), 40% above average. One interesting trend is October, our wettest month with 83mm, is getting wetter. This backs up our policy of early drilling.

Crops have not stopped growing and mildew is present in most of them. It is not at a level to cause concern, and we could do with a bit of tiller death anyway. Thank goodness for low seed rates.

Conventionally-sown oilseed rape has suffered from pigeon damage, so the gas guns are out. Punch C (carbendazim + flusilazole) has done a good job on disease. Beans are just coming through and we need to get simazine on quickly.

Just one more day of commercial shooting to go this season. It has gone well and extra days are planned next year, which means we will need more game cover.

We sold 900t of wheat just before Christmas for April and June movement. To my horror I found a wet spot at the back of the store this week. A new years resolution to monitor the store to the standards set down in the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme.

A change is as good as a rest. We recently took our local church bells to Whitechapel foundry – the loaded truck and trailer was quite a sight. Our church has Millennium Commission funding to cast the bells, which have been silent since 1907.

Heavy rain eased to allow some ploughing last week at Gosmere Farm. Bill Harbour has had to deploy gas guns to scare pigeons which have been feeding on oilseed rape. Crops are growing in the mild weather.

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Bill Harbour

2 January 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, this years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Stewardship

scheme

SNOW in the week before Christmas was not enough to stop us ploughing wheat stubble for peas. But even so the job wasnt finished before the break – assisting with the farm shoot took precedence. One of us helps with the beaters trailer and the other the gun trailer. The latter is known locally as the monkey cart.

After moving 500t of wheat last month I was able to have a sort out and bring some wheat which had not been cleaned or dried back into our main store. That was done and the combine, power harrow, drill, rolls and trailers are now put away.

We have about 30ha (74 acres) of our own ploughing left to do, and have also agreed to do all the arable work for a neighbouring fruit and hop farmer. That amounts to 40ha (99 acres), of which 16ha (40 acres) needs ploughing for peas and 24ha (59 acres) is Consort wheat sown without tramlines for added interest.

I have just signed up with Van Den Bergh foods for 1998 peas – Bunting again. Of this 30ha will be for seed and 25ha (62 acres) commercial. I am pleased to see the price has gone up, not much else does.

Our direct drilled OSR is not as tidy as our neighbours conventionally drilled crop. Of course it is next to the A251 too, without the benefit of a hedge.

For me Christmas came early with the awarding of a rose bowl from Weald Granary for the best sample of grain going into store. All credit to Kim for producing such a good sample off the combine.

I was also honoured with a trip to Twickenham to see the varsity match thanks to Zeneca. This was for using and saying nice things about Amistar. Watch out for the video!

Happy New Year.

Bill Harbour is as pleased as punch after winning the Weald Granary award for the best sample of grain going into store in 1997.

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Bill Harbour

5 December 1997

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, this years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme

scheme

NOVEMBER gave us 97mm (3.8in) of rain, which although very welcome has slowed us up a bit. We hope to complete bean drilling this week and have only just finished cereal spraying.

The last two fields were full of self-sown beans so CMPP was added to the Trump (IPU + pendimethalin). I got a good deal on the Trump in 25-litre Ecomatic packs and plan to use a Novartis Linkpak next year too.

Last week we moved our 500t of feed wheat which was sold to Glencore in July at £80/t. Hauliers we know from Suffolk used clean, new wagons with on-board weighers to shift 250t. The other 250t was subbed out and we had some tatty wagons from the West Country. They had been hauling either clay from Cornwall or coal from Wales and were told to wash out or leave the farm. In future I will not be so kind, charging £5/t for washing, or better still not allowing them on the farm.

As members of Weald Granary we shall join the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, along with 487 other growers from Kent to Dorset who are in grain groups run by SCATS.

If you read the scheme manual it is only good practice and compliance to various Acts and codes of practice. Farmers should be grateful we have sensible practical growers like Jonathan Tipples in the ACCS working group.

As a producer of human consumption peas, seed peas and beans, milling wheat and other crops, I will be pleased to get QA. It will allow me to grow what I like and sell to who I want, and not be tied to a merchant who says I will not buy your crops unless you buy my seed, fertiliser, spray and agronomy advice, which is what might have happened.n

The assured combinable crops scheme looks useful, says Bill Harbour. But some hauliers will have to sharpen up their act.

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Bill Harbour

7 November 1997

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, this years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme

scheme.

WE finished our drilling on Oct 14 leaving just 26.5ha (65 acres) of Punch beans to be ploughed in later.

We started on Sept 16 with Abbot wheat at 110kg/ha (98lb/acre) followed by Consort, Regina barley, Hussar, Brigadier, Reaper, Charger and Hereward. Nearly all were from home-saved seed treated with Beret Gold (fludioxynil) except for the Regina which had Raxil (tebuconazole + triazoxide).

Seed rates were calculated by thousand grain weight and sowing date. The only exception was the last 8ha (20 acres) of Charger next to a plot of game cover maize and a release pen where we used 170kg/ha (152lb/acre).

For next year I bought a 500kg bag each of Abbot, Madrigal, Hereward, Brigadier, Consort, Charger, Soissons, and Malacca all at CI. I thought that Soissons would be better for us than barley as it yields as well if not better and we can use it as double use storage at Weald Granary.

My decision to buy a rubber-tyred Packerflex roller for the new power harrow has paid off. Last season I had a lot of trouble with the roller stopping on our chalky banks. This was made worse with plastic scrapers. I spent two days last year cleaning and resetting them. This year the equipment just rolls over flints and is self cleaning.

The other bit of kit changing was to upgrade to a 4m front press. This has speeded up ploughing making it a faster cheaper operation, and it does not slow down the drill.

We are busy spraying the cereals with Stomp/IPU (pendimethalin/isoproturon), which comes in 25litre Ecomatic drums, and cypermethrin.

The oilseed rape will all have Punch C (carbendazim + flusilazole) fungicide. It has already had Falcon (propaquizafop) to clear up the cereals. Avadex Excel (tri-allate) is being applied by a contractor to most of the cereals. The 80ha (198 acres) of stubbles due to be ploughed for peas and beans have been sprayed with Roundup (glyphosate) and Ethokem adjuvant.

Today I saw my first flock of pigeons. With all this modern technology I wonder if I could NET my OSR with an interactive web of Email.

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