Direct drilling is way forward for Keith Challen

Elderflower harvest has started and over the next few weeks we should see more than 40t of flowers come through the factory, pressed, filtered and lovingly turned into a range of drinks totalling 12m bottles, which then disappear to the four corners of the globe.

I’m resisting talking about the drought. May saw 18mm here – more than some, but not enough. New elder plants are suffering and are irrigated twice a week courtesy of a water bowser. This hasn’t stopped us losing about 10% of plantings.

The last of the wheat has gone with some oilseed rape left to sell. We have enjoyed record prices, which is lucky as this harvest looks like it’s going to be average, at best. The sooner it comes and goes and we get the next crop in the better.

AS Communications fitted our Trimble FMX RTK GPS to the Case Quadtrac. This is our first step towards a controlled traffic farming (CTF) system based on four, eight and 40m. We have bought into a joint venture for our RTK signal with B&B Tractors, the local Trimble dealers, and two large farming companies, savings us all some money.

Direct-drilled wheat looks superb. Every bit of moisture was saved not working the seed-beds and drying them out. Applying phosphate with the Vaderstad Seed Hawk drill resulted in a bigger root mass, helping plants to forage for water. I’m sure direct drilling on well-structured soils has significant benefits and will feature at Belvoir next year.


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