Arable Farmer Focus: Bill Davey spends some rare time out of the office on a tractor ploughing

An unseasonal spell of settled weather has opened a window of opportunity to push on with some land work. Spring barley and wheat are going into good seed-beds, following lily bulbs and green feed crops.

I was never a fan of spring wheat when I farmed in England. I was always disappointed in their performance come harvest. However, here in New Zealand there are several varieties that do seem to deliver, if managed carefully, and we grow one that has consistently yielded in excess of 10t/ha.

Although the weather is settled, we are having some very frosty mornings which means we don’t start drilling until early afternoon. With all hands on deck during this busy period, I’ve found myself out on a tractor, too. We have quite an area of land to plough for vining peas and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to leave the office for a while. I’m currently ploughing fescue stubble after its third year of seed production. The land is tight after such a time and our JD 8130 needs every one of its horses to handle the seven-furrow Kverneland RG100.

Store lambs are slowly reaching their target weight of 45kg of liveweight and the general feeling among finishers in this region is that its been a difficult season. One thing we have learned though is that kale does not have the same feed value as forage rape. Although their MEs (metabolisable energy contents) are almost identical, kale lacks the crude protein levels of rape.

Nick and I have enjoyed a few days’ pheasant shooting this season in South Canterbury, but on one occassion were unable to find the gun safe keys. It was 6.30am when we realised we had an issue and we were going to be late. It amazed me how much damage you can do to a gun safe with a 9in angle grinder.

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