Farmer Focus: Edward Tupper finds wet autumn highlights stubble trouble

Spring has definitely arrived here and the farm continues to look better by the week.

All the cattle are now outside enjoying the grass, especially the Sussex bull calves in their newly-fenced HLS grazing pasture. The scrub clearance work that we did during the winter looks to have been successful as there is a sprinkling of grass and cowslips flowering in new places.

Our forage maize was drilled into a good, but flinty seed-bed and then sprayed pre-emergence with 4 litres/ha of pendimethalin on a relatively damp surface. But I feel it might still need a follow-up spray depending on rainfall.

Our spring barley needs a shower, but has tillered very well. However, the ongoing problem of grassweeds in the crop continues. This has been highlighted this year by the wet autumn and our not being able to cultivate to get a good chit of blackgrass and meadowgrass then.

There is also the conflict with managing the over-winter stubble in the HLS and ELS schemes, which are a very important part of our farming business. At the moment it all fits well together, but I fear we may have to drag the plough out of the nettles for certain fields in future.

Having asked around the locality if anyone would like to house some bees here at the farm, I am now the proud landlord of one hive. It has been sited on the edge of a 6m margin within flying distance of a pollen and nectar mix which has just had some phacelia added to it. The bees are also within easy reach of the ever-improving oilseed rape.

I hope they will be a success and the colony will grow into producing some lovely “national park” downland honey. Now I just need some crumpets.

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