Farmer Focus: Allan Chambers, March column

The arable conference season draws to a close with all the pundits suggesting that growers, after seven years’ income famine, are to enjoy seven years of feasting.

None of these predictions will affect our plans as we continue to farm our land based on the soil’s long term ability to grow crops in a sustainable rotation.

Autumn drilled crops have received their first fertiliser, and winter barley, all Retriever, is greening up at long last, after looking as sick as Irish rugby supporters. Wheats are probably too thick, despite low seed rate, and growth regulator will be required.

Potato planting plans have been finalised. To date we have relied heavily on Cultra. But our pack house, Wilson’s, feels that a spread of varieties would be better for us, them and most importantly the market.

This means 50% Cultra, with Vivaldi, Melody, and Premiere making the balance. All the potato ground has had 15t/ha of broiler litter which was ploughed in within the hour to retain the ammonia.

Spring barley, despite constant crow attack, has emerged successfully. My father maintained that each day’s delay in drilling after St Patrick’s Day, 17 March, means a 1% drop in yield, and practice proves this true.

Our SFP has still not arrived. This will be the third year our payment has been delayed for no valid reason.

DARD claims to have paid 85% of clients by 1 January 2008, but I suspect that an analysis would show that only 50% of the money has been allocated. Government has learned what cash flow means.

Mistake of the month: Could have been serious. Hitched on the spinner and didn’t check that the link arms were correctly locked onto the balls. Luckily noticed my error before I hit the first bump, otherwise major damage would have been caused.

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