Allan Chambers stars on Ulster TV

March has been an eventful month. Our machinery auction was a great success and my switch to share farming with my nephew is now in full swing, thanks to some good dry weather.

It is great to be out in the fields again. Hybrid winter barley has had its early March dressing of 320kg/ha of a 13.0.30 blend. I am convinced that potash applied at this time of year will improve the efficiency of uptake of the main nitrogen at the end of this month. All in all, I am reasonably happy with winter barleys, despite not been drilled until the last week in October.

Winter wheats are a different story. Only half the planned area is as required. One field never dried out enough to drill, and is now in spring wheat, while another was so patchy that it had to be oversown with the same. A month will tell. The remainder of our arable area will be split between land rented out for potatoes and forage maize. The latter has always been grown without plastic, but there are new improved films on the market and we will probably try this method. Hopefully, it will increase yields and lead to an earlier harvest, but the outlay must be cost-effective.

Ulster Television’s recent series on a year in farming featuring 12 real farmers (including yours truly) has been a great success. Viewing figures have beaten EastEnders, and the public response has been very positive. Apparently, people have bought into learning how their food is being produced. The absolute star of the show has been a 13-year-old lad from Fermanagh who will be a role model for the future.

Mistake of the Month: Jumped out of the tractor in order to remove a big field stone and twisted an ankle. Next time I will get out slowly , or better still, leave it to the young share farmer.

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