Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Bradshaw bemoans early OSR yields

We were fortunate the dry summer blessed us with a beautiful day for our Flegstock Charity Music Festival on the farm earlier in the month. While the event was never going to rival Glastonbury, it was still a big success.

More than 200 people attended and enjoyed 18 musical acts, sideshows, picnics and drinks, and £1100 was raised for charity, including the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI). Thanks everyone for your support.

The drought has brought crops to harvest quickly this year, making preparations rushed. Nearly 20 years ago when Jayne and I prepared for our first harvest, the elderly Massey 525 combine needed lots of mechanical attention. Many hours were spent changing belts and bearings, or fabricating new panels and guards.

Now, my harvest preparation has included plenty of time in the office. The shared John Deere combine has had an upgraded yield monitoring panel installed. The Gatekeeper mapping software I run to process the data has also had a major update. As the reluctant custodian of our mapping data, I have had to manage the changes and ensure data cards are properly loaded with harvesting plans.

While I am always amazed at what modern technology on our machines can do, I am also aware of how much time it can take to manage. As an amateur with IT, this has sometimes been a bit complex. It is a far cry from the old cab-less 525 combine that I endured for harvest 1990.

The first oilseed rape crop to ripen, or die, was predictably on a block of drought-prone gravel land. We have started and yields from the first two trailers were not great, at about 3.5t/ha. While we hope the stronger land will do better, I fear we will be down on last year’s average of about 5t/ha.

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