Farmer Focus Arable: Life begins at 40 for Keith Challen

Well, what a month. It started with me resigning my post as manager with Farmeco, a huge decision let me tell you, I would like to thank the owners for what has been a fantastic 20 years for me.


So to the future and I’m in the enviable position of taking on the management of what can only be described as one of the most beautiful farms in the country. If you have ever visited Belvoir Castle and looked down from the car park you will know exactly what I mean.

The next big event was my 40th birthday. I asked for a motorbike and a tattoo and got a fishing rod and a Toblerone. I said to my daughters I feel like having a midlife crisis, they responded by saying “be quick dad the family will be here in 10 minutes”.

Blackgrass control can only be described as average at best, a huge disappointment. Too dry for pre-ems, too cold for Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) and too wet to travel – roll on harvest.

We started our sclerotinia campaign this week with a mix of Amistar (azoxystrobin), Filan (boscalid) and magnesium. I have to say the oilseed rape looks fantastic, hybrid crops sown at 15 seeds/m (around 1kg/ha) look especially good. With Compass and Excel having the greater number of pods and the most open canopy, next week should see the last 80kg of nitrogen sprayed on diluted with water.

For the second month running, rainfall has been virtually non-existent, recording just 17mm in April. Heavy land is cracking open already and you can just see a little drought stress in some patches.

Spring oilseed rape drilled two weeks ago is emerging slowly, the previous two nights frosts won’t be helping either on top of the lack of moisture. However, the thistles within the crop are doing nicely.

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