Beet weeds still troublesome for Philip Bradshaw

Cambridgeshire-based Philip Bradshaw grows cereals, sugar beet and potatoes on about 300ha (740 acres) fenland and other soil types from Flegcroft Farm, Whittlesey

A problem with my 15-year-old sprayer and tricky weather means our sugar beet weed control is still an ongoing challenge in some fields – particularly those beside the road.

I enjoyed driving over all our wheat during its final nitrogen dressing two weeks ago. Most looks well, though some lighter land was showing early signs of drought. Recent rains will hopefully have cured this.

I decided to order most of next season’s N needs just before the Bank Holiday. With a few days away pending and given a new apparently no-nonsense fertiliser marketing strategy I felt it wise to secure some product.

The price was a little eye-watering, although I’m well aware that the commodities I produce are potentially and rightfully more valuable than when I purchased my fertiliser for the current season.

My other concern is in adjusting my farming methods to accommodate this era of higher costs and prices.

Over the years I have got used to forcing costs down on all operations. But now, with higher values at stake, I am reminded of the need for a culture of excellence that has the operational capacity to do jobs well and on time, not necessarily at lowest cost.

The challenge is to refine our system to do this while retaining the flexibility needed to reduce costs should commodity values fall again.

We are pleased this year to be hosting a sugar beet variety and field day on Monday, 9 June here at Flegcroft Farm for KWS UK.

The trial strips are growing well, and we have an interesting afternoon planned looking at the varieties and hearing a couple of brief presentations before a tea-time barbeque.

All sugar beet growers in the area should have had an invitation and I look forward to seeing visitors on the day.

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