Jim Macfarlane is farm
manager at Edrington
Berwickshire. Two thirds of
the 275ha (680-acre) unit
is arable, with winter wheat
the main breadwinner,
complemented by malting
barley, winter rape and peas
ANOTHER month has passed with little progress. Wheat drilling has been impossible since Oct 15 and it now looks unlikely we will manage any more this autumn.
More spring barley seems inevitable and the maltsters must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of cheap and plentiful supplies. However, for us and many others the land that is left is really too heavy for the crop.
What we have sown is establishing desperately slowly. Wheat sown a month ago is yet to emerge and even some winter barley has only a single leaf. Little rolling has been possible leaving crops vulnerable to slug damage.
However, full-rate metaldehyde at sowing, plus a follow-up treatment where needed seems to be working.
Our attempt at weed control on earlier sown cereals sums up this years experiences. On one of the few decent days, 32ha (70 acres) was sprayed with Trump (ipu + pendimethalin). The next day, forecast showers turned into our worst floods in seven years and I am afraid we have lost the ipu component at least.
Oilseed rape spraying has been more successful with most of our area now treated with Contrast (carbendazim + flusilazole). Kerb (propyzamide) has also been applied where no Butisan (metazachlor) or Falcon (propaquizafop) went on. Our low profile tyres are again proving their worth with little mess despite waterlogged soil.
It is very frustrating to see crops get such a bad start, especially following such a poor harvest. Farming isnt much fun in Scotland right now. Perhaps we need a "Freedom Not to Farm Bill".
If payments at IACS levels were available to turn farmland into parkland, managed for wildlife habitat, I bet there would be plenty of takers. It has to beat struggling all year just to make a loss.
However, I for one would not be joining that queue. Surely things can only get better, and I want to be farming when they do.
Farming in Scotland is not much fun at present, says borders farmer Jim Macfarlane, but he has no intention of quitting, even if paid for parkland management.