Farmer Focus Arable: Allan Chambers experiments with Millet

With the 30ha of the forage maize drilled last week, the spring work is almost complete. Only a 2ha block of experimental millet remains and should be sown by publication date.

Why millet this far north? Well, my wife enjoys feeding our residential garden birds and I looked at what she buys to discover that it’s mostly niger seed from South America and peanuts from the USA. So foreign is this diet to a greenfinch it must be the equivalent to an Irishman living on Mumbai curries. I hope we can market the millet to bird lovers as locally-grown, low carbon footprint to replace branded products (even the RSPB imports foreign seeds to include in its mix).

Wheats and barleys are flying through their growth stages and final nitrogens will be applied shortly, totalling 220 kg/ha and 200kg/ha respectively. T1 spray should be on by now, but showery weather is keeping the sprayer in the shed. Hopefully the cleavers that have survived and are thriving can be wiped out in a tank mix with the fungicide.

A recent visit with a farm safety officer resulted in a pass except for one PTO shaft guard that needed attention; this has been done as I have seen the results of associated accidents.

As I look out the office window I see a beautiful countryside in the full flush of spring, and look forward to the visit of Farmers Weekly readers to our farm at the end of the month. Northern Ireland is back in business and many more are welcome.

Mistake of the month: I sprayed the maize with chemicals left over from last year. Read the label carefully and then applied the chemical accordingly. I phoned the supplier to get some more only to be told that the recommended rate had been increased by a third, so had to go over the ground again.

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