Arable Farmer Focus: Fertiliser doesn’t feel much of a bargain for David Shepherson

Harvest has finally finished with the last crop of spring rape completed on 7 September – a bit of a disappointment at about 1.9t/ha. We put this largely down to the drought earlier in the season, though some seeds were lost to wind-blow just before harvest.

The combine has just one more job to do before being put away for winter. We have a field of linseed to cut on a customer’s farm; I’ve never cut any before and I’ve heard a few horror stories about this crop, so watch this space.

We drilled the last field of rape on 9 September, a prolonged affair due to the rain. So far the hybrids look to be coming through well, though the one variety of conventional rape we’re growing is patchy.

The rain seems to have brought out the slugs, so we did a quick run round with the pelleter and that should, hopefully, allow the rape to get up out of harm’s way.

Finally, we have been able to start drilling the first wheats; it seems to get harder every year to get seed into the shed before the first of September. That, and the rain keeping us off any land that requires cultivating by min-till, means we’ve had to retreat to some sandy land that can be ploughed up directly in front of the combination drill.

I’m pleased I ordered our nitrogen early; the upswing in wheat prices seems to be keeping fertiliser prices moving ever upwards. One load of 0-20-30 NPK has just arrived and at over £10,000 for the load, it doesn’t feel much of a bargain. But you can’t have P&K holidays every year and you won’t grow anything if you don’t look after your soil indexes.

And finally, I’m delighted to report the long-awaited arrival of our brand new grain trailer, which arrived in timely fashion the day after we finished combining.

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