Farmer Focus Arable: Spring barley drilling complete for Allan Chambers

Spring barley drilling was finished on 6 March in perfect conditions. The seed rate was a deliberate 100kg/ha.


Over the years we have gradually reduced this rate and I am convinced we have less lodging, higher hectolitre weights and higher yields at less cost. There is probably room for a further reduction. This harvest will tell.

Fertiliser is based on immediately ploughed in broiler litter spread at 10t/ha (4t/acre) as per RB209. Only 30kg/ha of nitrogen will be top dressed at the “tramlines visible” stage. The use of broiler litter every third year in our rotation is keeping life in our soils.

A fair number of ploughs were working in the immediate area last week, but we were attracting the most seagulls. The big blue tractor is now polka-dot. Having to wash it regularly is a pleasant task as the humble earth worm is the best cultivator/drainage machine/aeration tool in the business.

We are now busy spreading more broiler litter and ploughing for our potato/vegetable growing annual tenants. Working with these well run specialist businesses as an involved landlord is rewarding as we are hired in occasionally to help and feel involved and do our best to help them gain maximum financial return on our land. Both crops are excellent breaks.

Some early 15-0-30 NPK has been applied to the winter barley and winter wheat at 320kg/ha. The visible response to this kick-start has been zero. The only thing slower is the English rugby pack. Come on lads, get a Celtic coach, loosen up, and add some flare.

Mistake of the month: During the winter all the trailers had their wheels and hubs removed, for painting, bearing checking, and greasing. Must have forgotten to tighten one of them fully, resulting in a ruined wheel centre and hub, while drawing fertiliser yesterday. The transfer from the trailer body says “tighten wheel nuts regularly”, but this Celt, to his cost, didn’t bother.

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