Farmer Focus: Farming means extra paperwork

Well, we completed our Single Payment Scheme online without too much hassle, but I cant help wonder how much extra paper work is coming with CAP reform greening and Ecological Focus Areas. The way things are going the secretary is going to need a secretary and who’s going to make my cup of tea?

The spring workload is going nicely, although a hiccup with the sprayer resulted in a four-day breakdown due to the manufacturer not carrying the relevant spares – a very frustrating avoidable situation, enough said.

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Trying to get seed-beds for wild bird mixes seems impossible, last years stubbles are sad, cold, and wet, confirming what we already knew, that this isn’t spring-drilling land. I think an over-wintered cover crop would have helped.

The recent spell of good weather has given us chance to do some spot spraying blackgrass in an attempt to keep up attention to detail. I would have loved to help, but I’m not qualified to drive a knapsack unfortunately.

On the machinery front, our 54-plate Fendt 818 is to make way for a new Fendt 718 from B & B tractors later this month. With strong residual values and low fuel use the Fendt has very competitive costs of ownership. Also on the tractor front, another Quadtrac from Farmstar is joining the fleet to help with some additional land and to keep us up to date in that crucial autumn window.

The Quadtrac’s ability to tread at only 5psi and turn on the headland barely leaving a mark makes it an essential bit of kit for heavy land farming.

It’s a very exciting time at Belvoir Fruit Farms, we are just planning a new factory for our drinks business. The old factory is at bursting point, producing far more bottles than it was ever designed to do. The new one will be equipped with the latest equipment to produce eye-watering quantities, thus increasing the demand of fresh elderflowers from the farm. So no pressure then.

Keith Challen manages 800ha 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


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