Arable Farmer Focus: Allan Chambers nets record harvest yields

Last month, I said our part of the UK was having a perfect cereals year. Then the rain came. Combines were stationary for three weeks and we only finished baling straw yesterday. Fortunately ground conditions are still excellent and we have started ploughing for winter barley.

Volume is the chosen variety, as it topped everything by 10% at no extra cost. This year’s seed is a very large grain, so rates will be about 95kg/ha – 10% up on normal.

Final weighbridge dockets confirm an excellent wheat harvest with an average yield of 10.1t/ha at 18% moisture and with a delivered feed mill price of £175/t quoted it will end up being our best year. The comparison with 1985, our worst ever year when we had an average of 2.2t/ha at 28% moisture, is staggering. The banks were less concerned about a farming overdraft then than they are now.

My farming targets have always been to maintain and improve soil fertility, plan cropping round a sustainable sound rotation, and then get the input timings right. To achieve the first, we carry out annual soil sampling. This allows correct P and K levels to be targeted and can save money, especially as we apply broiler litter to all spring planted break crops.

A recent wet day allowed me to update our planned rotation until 2020 – retirement is not an option. As for timeliness, we must be there to do the job with the machinery ready. Only bad weather can cause hold-ups, so with that in mind, I’m off to finish seed drill servicing in readiness for tomorrow.

My trailer manufacturing, farming, agricultural contracting neighbour finished my harvesting before his own. He then baled my straw before his own. I hope this wasn’t his mistake of the month. For service like this, he deserved to be paid on the day. It’ll be done before he reads this.

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