Farmer Focus: Couch bashing time, says Andrew Charlton

After five consecutive wet summers I can at last get stuck into cultivations to kill couch effectively. The combination of hot days and very strong winds is ideal to dry the rhizomes out.

I tend to use some pretty old kit to go couch bashing; the best tool is a pig-tail tine-cultivator which is good at shaking rhizomes up to the soil surface. Where couch and docks together are a problem I use an undercutter, which is nothing more than a 35-year old low draft chisel plough with a replacement grain bucket edge welded across the back row of tines.

This ‘boils’ the soil and ensures that no roots go uncut. Finally, a Bomford Dynadrive I acquired last winter helps to break down the biggest clods and flicks rhizomes to the surface. It can be used for several passes to stay on top of the process. It all sounds very slow and energy intensive, but in reality there are only patches of couch across the farm and it’s worth concentrating effort to keep on top of the problem.

Another item of progress this year is that before harvest I changed the moisture meter and hygrometer, and suddenly I realise why grain drying had always been such a struggle – the old hygrometer was inaccurate by at least 20%. I suppose the moral is to never take the performance of any piece of kit for granted, and in any event to replace these relatively cheap but very important tools regularly.

In common with many readers, I’m sure, domestic life is dominated by the imminent departure of my daughter, Tori, to university. The sudden realisation that I’m shortly to be responsible for daily pony maintenance is matched by the feeling that the house is going to seem very empty.

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