Farmer Focus: Enjoying benefits of a mixed farming area

This season has not turned into the high disease pressure season we were all expecting.

This has been highlighted by my untreated plots and sprayer misses not being quite so obvious compared with this time last year.

Despite this, we have still carried out a robust fungicide programme based around SDHIs both at T1 and T2, as yield is vital.

Timings of fungicide applications have been excellent, which is something that is very satisfying for a sprayer operator to say.

Elsewhere, more than 50mm of rain in May has helped all the crops, especially the spring ones, which have all established well.

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The Claydon drilled spring oats have been particularly well helped as we continue with our direct drilling experimentation.

The peas and beans have so far survived any attack from weevils, as reported in other parts of the country, so they have not been sprayed with insecticide as yet.

We have also been very busy importing more than 400t of poultry litter, which is something we have in abundance here in Herefordshire.

This has been a fantastic product, particularly under OSR, and it is also helping us with our long-term aim of improving our soil structure. This just shows the benefits of a mixed farming area.

The Basic Payment System (BPS) deadline looms ever nearer, along with the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) claim form and the Forestry Commission Grant claim form.

We have managed to get ours sent off and are hoping for a nice timely payment.

However, once the RPA realises just how many RLE1 forms they have got to process, I don’t think we will have much joy.

This has made me realise the importance of preparing our businesses for a time without subsidies rather than waiting to see if it does happen, particularly with a potential EU referendum on the horizon.

This may be hard to quantify at current prices but when is a good time?

Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730ha estate in North Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland that supports a flock of 1,000 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle.