Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Bradshaw updates spring agronomy plans

I dragged myself away from farm work recently to attend a spring agronomy seminar in Suffolk. Despite the many pressures on my time, I always look forward to such events.

We have achieved great strides in our crop management over recent years, and I had thought that significant adaptation of crop husbandry for this season was unlikely.

However, over a couple of hectic days we were able to consider the management of cereal, oilseed and pulse crops, expertly directed by scientists from Crop Management Information.

Our appreciation of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, micronutrient and disease management was modified, and our management strategies will be adapted to reflect a long-term change in input expenditure that has not been matched by a similar trend in the value of our crops.

We need higher yields, but at carefully managed costs, and have realised that this is feasible. We considered soil science, chemistry and crop protection with reference to physiology, and we were encouraged to arrive at the solutions for ourselves with the underlying mechanisms and concepts explained.

I came back home with my brain crammed full of information and with enthusiasm for the challenges that are ahead this spring.

Spending time with like-minded growers is always a pleasure and our “group,” who meet several times a year, have become good friends.

We met up at the Bildeston Crown in Suffolk, owned by farmer and group member James Buckle. It’s a superb hostelry and has gone up another notch this year.

The surroundings are fantastic, the locally-sourced food unsurpassed, and the welcome and attention from staff is superb – not forgetting a great pint of locally-brewed Adnams beer.

It is a good example of a well run off-farm diversification, using some produce from the owner’s farm, but run as a separate business.

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