Farmer Focus Arable: Spud planting delayed for Martin Lawrenson

Potato planting has at last been completed. After a good start in excellent conditions we were at one point a fortnight ahead of schedule.

As usual a spanner in the works came as a fortnight of wet, catchy weather delayed us until we finished on 16 May. The last few rows went in with a howling gale and horizontal rain making the job a struggle.

Spray days have been few and far between, although we have managed to get the most vital jobs done.

Crops look fairly good apart from some fields of spring barley which are yellow, manganese deficiency being the probable cause. I hope adding Manco to the herbicide spray should cure the problem.

Our SPS forms were completed, posted and have been received by the RPA in good time for once.

We were intending to submit our form online, but after a couple of hours trying to get to grips with the software, we decided to go back to the paper forms.

Some people might regard this job as a pain, but I find it quite straightforward and it is the best paid couple of hours work of the year.

I had considered sending the claim to the Westminster expenses office, where it seems it would be guaranteed to be approved. Perhaps they would also consider paying for my second home (new tractor), repairs to my moat (ditches) and “specialist” TV channels (sky sports)!

I was pleased to see that Countryfile has a new slot on BBC1 on Sunday evenings, bringing rural issues to a new and, hopefully, larger audience than ever before.

The programme isn’t as farming-based as I’d like, but it does still cover some interesting subjects. Anything that educates and informs people about what goes on in the countryside has to be good.

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