Farmer Focus: Crop drilling logistics review to improve efficiency

Well, I have just tipped 45mm out of the rain gauge, so that’s the end of anything field-based for a while.

However, other than a part tank of peri-emergence herbicide on the last-drilled wheat, we are up to date, so I’m not too worried.

We were bound to get a big rainstorm at some point after it had been so dry earlier in the autumn.

The last of the wheat went in in good conditions at the beginning of November and we even got it rolled, which you’d never expect normally at this time of year.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

I need to remember this is probably the exception and not the rule. Overall, I’m very pleased with the farm and the crops look well.

I’m only too aware how fortunate we are to have had rain at the right times, resulting in good establishment. So far, delayed drilling has resulted in considerably less blackgrass germination.

Hopefully this means the new system is starting to work – it needs to as I’m not sure how many years of stressful late drilling I can cope with.

Less time in the workshop

Normally at this time of year we start to drag all our old cultivation and drilling machinery through the workshop, but since we have sold it all there is literally only a few days’ worth of maintenance to be done and a few days of painting.

Our 25-year-old AS Marston slurry tanker is going to get a colour change and some fancy new LED lights just to keep it up to date and looking the part. And for the first time in a long while we dont have a major workshop project to get on with.

Saying that, I’m currently reviewing our drilling logistics – our old Richard Western drill filler is just starting to show its age, so the thinking caps are on to see how we can improve cycle times. Watch this space.

By the time you read this I will have been to the Midlands Machinery Show. Although there isn’t anything on the shopping list, I’m still going.

I always look forward to catching up with old friends, if only to comment on their expanding waistlines and receding hairlines.


Keith Challen manages 1,200ha 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.