Farmer Focus : Clyde Jones 10/12/04

THIS FINE winter weather has been a Godsend to our stubble turnip and forage rape fields and with the additional foliar spray of boron the crop has responded well.

There was plenty of leaf, but the root development was poor, indicating boron deficiency. Some fields are now up to speed and we have a bit more confidence in putting our dry cows out.

I have been measuring the turnips with a large hoop this year. Previously I measured out a meter square with string and stakes. But this year I connected a length of poly water pipe the correct length to equal a square metre.

I simply throw this hoop onto the crop and pull up and weigh the encircled crop within. This may lead passers by to report the emergence of alien turnip circles, but it makes my job easier.

We are about to dry off both herds this week, having metered out the grazing to what seems the last blade of grass. In fact the residual grass wedge is already at 2000kg of DM/ha ready for next year’s grazing.

Someone in our discussion group said their key performance indicator could, in future, be based on the number of free calendars received rather than litres or profit/ha.

No calendars equate to a simple system with little reliance on cake, machinery or fertiliser firms. So far, we don’t have any 2005 calendars.

A few years ago we used to choose bulls on such things as body capacity, to increase forage consumption in the next generation of cows. That concept is rubbish when you look at a Jersey crossbred, as front on – she’s all belly.

The consequence of which is that they don’t walk so close to the electric wire, leaving a nice clear path for me to walk along with out getting an electric shock. As long as I don’t have too much Christmas pudding that is.