Farmer Focus: Drills working overtime in northern Scotland

It has been a long wait for spring to arrive, but it is amazing how things have improved over the past week. 

Last Sunday the only sound was birds chirping, but this week they are singing to a background of roaring tractors drilling spring barley, and I should think every drill in Aberdeenshire will be working this weekend.

Although grass and winter crops are now growing, it came as a shock to hear on the weather forecast that in the south, pollen levels would be high, emphasising the variation in climate on our small Island.  The only things with pollen here at present are daffodils.

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Spring barley is going into fairly good seed-beds, although the legacy of the past two months is the numerous wet areas, meaning that we are having to move around a bit with the drill to give some fields more time to dry. 

The sprayer has had a busy first week of the season, getting T0 applications on to winter barley and fungicide on to oilseed rape, both with growth regulator and trace elements as appropriate.

Wheat plans have been reviewed and on some of the more forward crops which have reasonable septoria resistance, I am going to omit the planned T0 and wait for the T1 timing. 

With drilling progressing we have also started the pre-emergence herbicide application of pendimethalin.

This application is primarily aimed at annual meadow grass, but I also find that it suppresses broad-leaved weeds until we are ready to go through the crop with the first fungicide.

With crops now being drilled my focus will fast forward to harvest and the next cropping year, preparing budgets and cashflows and selecting varieties for autumn drilling.

I also need to fill our remaining positions for harvest work, so anyone out there looking for work in Aberdeenshire please get in touch via e-mail.


Robert Drysdale is farm manager at Farmcare’s 1,610ha business in Aberdeenshire, growing winter and spring barley, wheat and oilseed rape across four contract farming agreements to the south of Inverurie. The farm has 130 beef cows on land less suitable for crop production.