Farmer Focus: Forced to apply a pre-T0 wheat fungicide

Spring drilling has so far been a stop-start affair, with conditions being variable and soils refusing to warm up or dry at depth.

I’ve heard quite a few old sayings about how to tell if the soil is warm enough to start drilling in the spring, but if everyone listened to them, this year we would still be waiting to start.

It’s been really interesting seeing how cover crops are being handled ahead of drilling, and an area that will need much more work going forwards.

Spraying off weeks ahead of the drill or ploughing them down seems like a step backwards to me if the aim is to keep something growing on the land all year round.

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Crops took a while to show a visual improvement after the first nitrogen applications, another noticeable effect of slow-to-warm-up soils. However, the oilseed rape and wheat all look a darker shade of green (or in the case of the OSR, actually look green) and things look to be starting to grow at last.

At the time of writing, T0s look like they’ll be about 10 days away – so with a bit of luck while your reading this the wind is calm, the sun is out and the sprayer wheels are turning – or at least they were when it was daylight.

Annoyingly we’ve had some high levels of yellow rust in some fields, so have had to do a pre-T0 in places.

Hopefully, the need for additional fungicide applications within the programme won’t be the norm for this season as we’re already at risk of losing actives. We don’t want to be adding to the risk of resistance build up as well.

I’m having an RPA-esque computer issue currently – originally it was learning the mapping module of Gatekeeper and struggling to get my head round it, but since then the entire computer system has fallen into meltdown and is now probably only useful as flat surface to set the drill calibration scales on. I suppose the difference between my little issue and the RPA is that it hasn’t cost me £150m.

I attended a Basic Payment Scheme meeting a few months ago, and summarised my notes with the phrase “BPS system = shambles”, which I’m sure was most famers’ thoughts.

If only we could predict the weather as accurately.

Matt Redman

Matt Redman operates an agricultural contracting business and helps out on the family farm at lower Gravehurst, Bedfordshire. The 210ha farm grows mainly wheat, oilseed rape and beans.