Arable Farmer Focus: Allan Chambers is optimistic for winter barley harvest

If the superb early summer weather continues, we should have started the winter barley harvest by the time you read this. Our six-row Volume looks full of promise and with a heavy crop of straw to sell into a bullish market, spirits are on a high.

Wheat crops are as thick as I have seen and any fungal diseases that may have threatened yield potential are not to be found.

Forage maize loves the sunshine and is a deep green colour. We applied 100kg/ha of sulphate of potash to this crop at drilling, (in addition to our usual 6t/ha of incorporated broiler litter) as a “gut feel” attempt to improve our average yield. It has cost 1.2t/ha of harvested maize to take this step, but I am optimistic.

With no potatoes, I have had time to visit some excellent farms. Congratulations to Edward Carson on his commitment to wildlife. Combining this with his long-established sheep, beef, pig, and grain enterprises showed superb management skills. The correct use of home produced organic manures was reflected in the excellent quality of stock and crops on view.

I then went with our local Syngenta crop discussion group to see Martin Hamilton’s Mash Direct operation. I love to see entrepreneurs succeed, and boy is this a success story? From struggling to earn a decent living growing potatoes and vegetables on a medium-sized farm, he is now employing 80 people, producing various crops on 800 acres and marketing ready to eat mashes of various types. And all this in just eight years.

Yesterday I went south with the revamped Ulster Arable Society to visit Lyons Estate research centre and then on to John and Mark Sheridan’s large arable farm near Naven.

Mistake of the month: Our mounted Amazon sprayer has two support legs which must be unfolded to secure and balance the machine before unhitching from the tractor. Yours truly forgot to do the necessary. Luckily the sprayer was backed up tight against the shed wall, and could not fall right over on its back, avoiding what could have been a costly error.

• For more columns from other Arable Farmer Focus writers

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