Farmer Focus: Change cultivations to boost organic matter

Congratulations to the organisers of Lamma. We visited both days with no queuing in or out and managed not to get stuck.

For the first time in a while we saw quite a bit of innovation in all areas, and I even saw a copy of our side-tipping chaser bin, which reminds me future inventions on the farm need patenting.

I think my favourite stand was Cultivation Solutions, and as the name suggests some of their ideas will solve some of my cultivation conundrums at Belvoir, which is quite exciting for the future.

See also: A good straw chopper is vital

Crops at Belvoir look a little sorry for themselves at the moment. Our clay soils are laying cold and wet even though we cultivated them into near-perfect seed-beds. I can’t help but feel we are over working them.

I’m an avid voyeur on Twitter and follow the #rootsnotiron gang, closely watching all the direct-drilled crops and I have to say, on the whole, they all look well from the pictures I’ve seen.

I know reduced tillage or even direct drilling with the use of cover crops makes sense, it’s just making sure we don’t end up in a mess, and while our organic matter contents aren’t too bad they would benefit, I’m sure, from more inclusion in the future so plans are afoot for autumn 2015.

Workshop jobs have been going well, with numerous trailers and bowsers coming in for resprays and upgrades in an effort to keep everything both legal and professional.

Our latest project is a high-speed, twin-pumped fertiliser bowser with floatation wheels perfectly matched to our Rogator to increase efficiency – the paint will barely have chance to dry before it will be flat out.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their concerns about me riding a bicycle again as I mentioned in last month’s column, and no I don’t need any stabilisers or a tricycle conversion or any framework bracing. I’m sure I will be just fine with my seat conversion, but thanks anyway.

Keith Challen

Keith manages 800ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business

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